Ukraine is offered to acquire two MQ-9 Reaper drones for a $1

General Atomics has again proposed selling two MQ-9 Reaper drones to Ukraine, pending approval from the US Department of Defense. This saga began in 2022 when the topic of Ukraine procuring or receiving MQ-9 Reaper drones dominated media coverage. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems [GA-ASI], the producer of these drones, tabled an offer to Ukraine early that year, sparking interest and scrutiny. 

GA-ASI’s initial proposal featured a relatively miniscule purchasing price: two MQ-9 Reaper drones were to be sold for a single dollar apiece. However, the overall cost factored in additional expenses, with Ukraine required to invest $10 million for preparation and supply of the requisite equipment and handling an annual $8 million charge for subsequent maintenance and support. 

A new offer

Recently, the plot has thickened as GA-ASI put forth a revised offer. Mark Brinkley, the Chief Marketing Strategist and Communications company representative, reported to Breaking Defense publication during the AUSA-2023 exhibition that, for the same negligible sum of $1, Ukraine could acquire two UAVs along with various supplementary equipment and services. 

Brinkley pointed out: “We’ve eased the conditions to include spare parts, technical support, and even priority data transmission.” 

Although this proposal sounds attractive, its realization hinges on the US Department of Defense’s consent, which has yet to materialize despite “numerous conversations” taking place, as told by Brinkley. 

GA might deliver MQ-9 Reaper UAVs to Ukraine in less than 30 days
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The F-16 could facilitate the deal

GA-ASI Vice President for International Strategic Development, Jaime Walters, argues that as Ukraine is expected to receive F-16 fighters shortly, supposed impediments to the full agreement for the MQ-9 for Ukraine are quickly diminishing. 

A Pentagon representative, when asked for a comment, responded: “At this time we do not have additional information or details”, but assured that the US Department of Defense continues to collaborate with Ukraine to furnish essential weaponry and other equipment for immediate and long-term defense needs.

About the MQ-9 Reaper

The MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. It is primarily used by the United States Air Force and other military forces for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance, and strike missions.

The Reaper is designed to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance [ISR] capabilities, as well as the ability to carry and deploy various weapons.

In terms of technical characteristics, the MQ-9 Reaper has a wingspan of 66 feet and a length of 36 feet. It can reach a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet and has a maximum speed of around 240 knots. The UAV is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, which allows it to stay airborne for up to 27 hours, depending on the mission requirements.

Surveillance and attacks

The Reaper’s functionality is centered around its ability to carry out both surveillance and strike missions. Equipped with advanced sensors and cameras, it can gather real-time imagery and video, providing valuable intelligence to ground forces.

The UAV is also capable of carrying a variety of weapons, including Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions [JDAM]. This gives the Reaper the capability to engage and destroy targets with precision.

Long endurance

One of the key advantages of the MQ-9 Reaper is its long endurance, which allows it to loiter over an area for extended periods, providing persistent surveillance and support to ground forces.

Its ability to operate at high altitudes also enhances its survivability and makes it less vulnerable to enemy threats. Additionally, the Reaper can be remotely piloted or operated autonomously, further reducing the risk to human operators.

Overall, the MQ-9 Reaper plays a crucial role in modern warfare by providing a combination of intelligence gathering and strike capabilities. Its long endurance, advanced sensors, and weapon systems make it a versatile and effective tool for military operations.

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