Australia Picks MQ-9 Reaper to Fill Armed MALE Drone Requirement

Australia plans to use the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle from American firm General Atomics to meet a requirement for an armed drone to tackle a variety of roles. An announcement of the selection was made by Australia’s Minister for Defense Christopher Pyne on November 16.

The new drone will fill a requirement for an armed medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV listed in Australia’s 2016 Defense White Paper. The acquisition effort – called Project Air 7003 – involves a purchase of anywhere from 12 to 16 drones, plus accompanying ground stations, at a cost of up to $1.45 billion. A first delivery is planned for 2021, with operational capability on the first Reaper aimed for by 2022.

The operational aircrew will be located at the Edinburgh Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base north of Adelaide. The fleet basing has yet to be determined.

Once in RAAF service the Reapers will perform a range of missions, including firepower support, ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) duties, and assist in search-and-rescue operations.

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is Forecast International’s International Military Markets Group Leader. Specializing in history and political science with a background in finance and economics, Dan provides insight into the military markets of both the Europe and the Asia, Australia and Pacific Rim regions. Dan's work has been cited in Aerospace and Defense News, Aerotech News and Review, Defense Talk, Global Defense Review, and Small Wars Journal, among others, and by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. In addition, Dan has been quoted in Arabian Business, the Financial Times, Flight International, The National, Bloomberg and National Defense Magazine. He has also contributed commentary to Defense News and appeared as a guest on the online radio show Midrats and on The Media Line. As editor of International Military Markets, Europe and International Military Markets, Asia, Australia & Pacific Rim, Dan brings a wealth of expertise on the political and economic forces shaping these markets.

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