May 17 (UPI) -- General Atomics has received a $400 million contract for production of 36 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft, the Department of Defense reported on Tuesday.
The contract comes from acquisition funds already appropriated sole-source acquisition funds from Fiscal 2016. The aircraft will be manufactured at the Fiscal 2016 rate in Poway, Calif., and is expected to be completed by August 31, 2020.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a much larger and heavily armed successor to the MQ-1 Predator drone. It is designed primarily for attack missions but can also be used for surveillance, close air support, and reconnaissance missions.
It has long-range endurance and carries the advanced Multi-Spectral Targeting System. It's suite includes infrared cameras, laser designators, and video systems. It has satellite uplink/downlink capabilities that allow its sensor data to be shared across networks.
It has a cruise speed of 230 mph, a flight ceiling up to 50,000 feet, and a range of 1150 miles, and can carry a payload of up to 3750 lbs. The Reaper can carry Hellfire laser-guided missiles, GBU-12 Paveway bombs, and GPS-guided GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. It has been operational since October 2007.