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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has been awarded a contract for eight MQ-9A Extended Range (ER) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) as part of the ARES Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) contract. The company anticipates awards later this year for ground control systems, spares, and ground support equipment as part of the first increment of the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Expeditionary (MUX) programme of record, the company writes in a press release.

GA-ASI plans to begin first delivery of aircraft and support equipment this winter to facilitate the fleet standup in late summer 2023 for US Marine Corps’ (USMC) Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3 located at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. As part of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 efforts, VMU-3 is tooperate these MQ-9A ERs to support training for the Marine Littoral Regiment.

The MQ-9A Extended Range (ER) is designed with field-retrofittable capabilities such as wing-borne fuel pods and reinforced landing gear that is to extend the aircraft’s endurance to more than 30 hours. MQ-9A ER is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture.