Sept. 17 (UPI) -- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has received a $92.2 million contract for MQ-9 Block 30 Ground Control Station retrofits for the U.S. Air Force.
The contract, announced Friday by the Department of Defense, will provide for MD-1A Block 15 GCS to MD-1A Block 30 GCS retrofits. Work will be performed in Poway, Calif., and is expected to be completed by May 2020.
Air Force fiscal 2016 aircraft procurement funds in the amount of $24.8 million and fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement funds in the amount of $4.9 million will be obligated at the time of award.
The MQ-9 SkyGuardian, also known as the Reaper, is a larger and more heavily armed successor to the famous MQ-1 Predator drone. It is designed primarily for attack missions but can also be used for surveillance, close air support and reconnaissance.
The drone has long-range endurance and carries the advanced Multi-Spectral Targeting System. Its suite includes infrared cameras, laser designators, and video systems. It has satellite uplink/downlink capabilities that also allow sensor data to be shared across networks.
The Reaper has a high cruise speed, a flight ceiling up to 40,000 feet and can carry a larger sensor and weapons payload than its predecessors. They can be armed with laser-guided missiles and bombs like the Hellfire and GBU-12 Paveway, and GPS-guided GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.