A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Reaper has the ability to carry both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles to Spain's military, the department announced on Wednesday.
The sale covers four MQ-9 Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft, and an additional 20 Embedded Global Position System/Inertial Guidance Units, two Mobile Ground Control Stations, five Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems, and five Synthetic Aperture Radar units. The total sale has an estimated cost of $243 million.
The MQ-9 Reaper was manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and is currently in service with the U.S. Air Force. The unmanned craft is typically armed with a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).
Reapers are designed for a combination of mission objectives, capable of performing strikes, coordination and reconnaissance operations against high-value, potentially time-sensitive targets fleeing the battlefield. The craft can also be used for intelligence, air support, search and rescue, and precision strikes.
The sale of the equipment aims to enhance the Spanish military's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. or ISR, capabilities, which the U.S. State Department says will add additional support for NATO and U.S. objectives. The Spanish Air Force will use the unarmed Reapers for homeland security, peacekeeping, and counter-terrorism operations. The U.S. State Department says the sale will not affect the balance of power in the region.
This Foreign Military Sale comes as U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter tours Europe. Carter visited Morón Air Base in Spain on Tuesday to speak to service members and learn more about Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa capabilities.
"We have wonderful friends like the Spanish, and have had these relationships for decades. We share a way of looking at the world, we share values, principles," Carter said. "They are great allies and we keep a strong and principle partnership going with them. That's what America has that no other country has all over the world."