Marine Corps Looks to Buy MQ-9 Reapers to Take New Missions

Jeff Brody

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to make the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial systems permanent in its inventory through President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, National Defense Magazine reported Friday. The service requested $117 million in funding to buy three Reapers in the coming year and additional three for fiscal year 2021.

Officials said the UAS will enable the Marines to bring new weapons to the field and conduct missions currently unsupported by its existing systems. Capt. Christopher Harrison, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps, said the service currently operates the Reapers under a contractor-owned, contractor-operated agreement.

“The MQ-9 Reaper provides increased lethality to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force by providing persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike capability, which the Marine Corps has not previously possessed in an unmanned system,” Harrison said. 

Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the drones would support the service in surveillance and electronic warfare in the South China Sea, armed reconnaissance in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Africa and power competition against Russia and China. Congress has yet to approve the funding for the FY20 budget proposal. 

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