On March 20, 2020, U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) pilots and sensor operators from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1) conducted their first operational flight of an MQ-9A Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in the Middle East.
The multi-sensor reconnaissance-equipped MQ-9A UAS produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has provided crucial support to USMC’s forward operations on the battlefield.
With the oversight of the GA-ASI team, the VMU-1 “Watchdog” crews took control of a Company Owned/Company Operated (COCO) MQ-9A supporting forward deployed Marines. This USMC achievement comes shortly after surpassing 7,000 hours of COCO flight operations since September 2018.
“This achievement represents a unique milestone and example of the Marine Corps’ legacy of innovation. As a partner with the Marine Corps, we look forward to expanding the role of Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) UAS in support of maritime littoral missions,” said David R. Alexander, President, GA-ASI.
VMU-1 leases MQ-9A Reaper aircraft to fulfill its urgent needs request for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) in Afghanistan. GA-ASI has been working with VMU-1 as the USMC transitions its COCO MQ-9A contract to a Government Owned/Government Operated (GOGO) contract in the coming year.
The GOGO capability fulfills the Commandant’s directive for USMC Group 5 persistent ISR capability with strike. VMU-1 will be the test bed and incubator to provide crucial information, lessons learned, requirements, tactics, techniques, and procedures that will aid in the USMC efforts for the successful acquisition and fielding of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Expeditionary (MUX) Group 5 capability.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar.
With more than six million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike.
The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas.