Marines Lay Out Plans For Their Own MQ-9 Reaper Drone Force In New Budget Request

March 14, 2019

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking to buy its first ever MQ-9 Reaper drones in the 2020 fiscal year, which would significantly increase service’s organic unmanned aviation capabilities. This follows the Marines’ employment of contractor-operated MQ-9s in Afghanistan and the Corps sending personnel to train with the U.S. Air Force to fly the Reaper ahead of its plans to acquire its own large, long-endurance drone called the MUX sometime in the future.

The U.S. Navy, which shares a budget with the Marine Corps, announced the plan during the rollout of its annual funding request for the 2020 Fiscal Year on Mar. 12, 2019. The proposal calls for $77 million to support the purchase of three MQ-9s, but it is unclear at present what this figure covers. The flyaway cost for a new Block 5 MQ-9 is around $20 million, according to U.S. Air Force budget documents for the 2019 Fiscal Year. The Navy plans to request an unspecified amount of funds to buy the Marines three more Reapers in Fiscal Year 2021, as well.

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