United States approves sale of 12 armed MQ 9B Reapers for Australia
United States approves sale of 12 armed MQ 9B Reapers for Australia. The State Department has notified the US Congress of its intent to sell 12 armed MQ 9B Reaper attack drones to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), learned citing indiastrategic.
The notice is procedural as per the US Laws to seek Congressional approval, and formal discussions between the two countries should begin shortly to finalise the price and requirements like onboard weapons, radars and services. The Remotely Piloted Aircraft, manufactured by the US crown jewel technology company General Atomics, can fly for about 40 hours for Reconnaissance missions, or for attack, by pilots sitting far away on land bases anywhere around the world.
Notably these Armed drones can only be sold after executive approval at the highest level, that is, that of the President, and that apparently has already been accorded after Australia made a formal request sometime back. For India, it was accorded by President Donald Trump after a request from India in 2017 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington.
Details of the Australian deal, estimated at $ 1.651 billion, have been disclosed as part of the notice April 23 by the Defense security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which looks after Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. The weapon systems and radars are about the same as those of the US Navy, as the US and Australian forces have great interoperability already, and being members of the newly formed QUAD, this cooperation is bound to grow stronger due to China’s growing aggressiveness against its neighbours.
Australia will be the third QUAD member after the US and India to operate the MQ 9Bs. India has taken two Reapers on lease and the formal Ministry of Defence approval to buy 30 of them – 10 each for Army, Navy and Air Force – is around the corner. Japan, the fourth QUAD member, is yet to announce this acquisition but has already declared support for joint, coordinated efforts in securing the Indo-Pacific region and waters.
DSCA said in its notice: “The proposed sale improves Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing timely Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), target acquisition, locate submarine capabilities, and counter-land and counter-surface sea capabilities for its security and defense. This sale will enhance interoperability between the US Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Australia has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability.
DSCA pointed out that the overall total value was calculated in highest possible terms at 1.651 billion, but the actual costs should be lower, depending on requirements and negotiations.
DSCA also disclosed the onboard systems and weapons as:
fifteen (15) Raytheon Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems-D (MTS-D) EO/IR sensors; sixteen (16) Lynx AN/APY-8 Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) with Ground Moving Target Indicator (GTMI); fifteen (15) RIOTM Communication Intelligence Systems; thirty-six (36) Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGI) with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Modules (SAASMs); six (6) KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits for 500lb bombs; four (4) MXU-650 Airfoil Groups for 500lb Paveway II GBU-12;
seven (7) MXU-1006 Airfoil Groups for 250lb Paveway II GBU-58; four (4) MAU-169 or MAU-209 Computer Control Groups (CCGs) for 250lb/500lb Paveway II GBU-58/GBU-12; six (6) FMU-139 Fuse Systems; twelve (12) MK-82 General Purpose 500lb inert bombs; five (5) High Bandwidth Compact Telemetry Modules (HCTMs).
Also included are Honeywell aircraft engines; Certifiable Ground Control Stations (CGCSs); mobile Satellite Communication Ground Data Terminals (SGDTs); Leonardo SAGE 750 Electronic Surveillance Measures System (ESM); GATES/RSO/GRMA; Automatic Information System (AIS); ARC-210 radios; AN/DPX-7 IFF transponders; General Dynamics Satellite Communication (SATCOM) antennas and Hughes modems with USG encryption; Leonardo/Selex SeaSpray 7500 maritime radars; KY-100M security voice terminals; KIV-77 Mode 4/5 IFF cryptographic appliques; AN/PYQ-10C Simple Key Loaders;
US Government Certified Encryption Solution; KOR-24A Small Tactical Terminal Link-16; Sierra Nevada Electronic Intelligence System; additional secure communications and cryptographic equipment; MQ-9B training simulator; Hellfire Training Missiles, missile rail kits and integration; M-299 Hellfire Rail Launchers; DSU-38 Laser Illuminated Target Detector for GBU-54; MK-81 General Purpose Bombs 250lb Inert Bombs; aircraft and weapons integration, test, and test equipment; additional ground support and test equipment; initial spare repair parts; repair & return; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; US Government and contractor engineering; technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
The principal contractors will be General Atomic Aeronautical Systems Inc., San Diego, CA; Lockheed Martin Inc., Bethesda, MD; Raytheon Inc., Waltham MA; and Leonardo SpA, Rome, Italy.
Any Offset requirements would be discussed during negotiations.