General Atomics' aeronautical systems business and the U.S. Marine Corps have completed the first operational flight of the company's MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial system in the Middle East.
GA-ASI said Thursday it conducted the flight with the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1, or VMU-1, and is currently leasing the MQ-9A UAS to the Marine Corps to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan.
VMU-1 serves as the “˜test bed' operators for the unmanned vehicle and will work to inform the acquisition and deployment of Reaper for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force under the UAS Group 5 capability.
The Marine Corps intends to transition MQ-9A ownership and operation from commercial to government over the next year.
David Alexander, president of GA-ASI, said the company is also looking forward to helping expand the deployment of medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS for maritime littoral missions under its partnership with the service branch.
MQ-9A has achieved over 7K hours of flight operations since 2018.