As the Eurodrone stagnates, the US Air Force prepares the successor to the famous MQ-9 Reaper

Last March, the head of acquisitions of the US Air Force, Will Roper, had announced before the American Congress that the USAF wanted to stop the production of MQ-9 Reaper drones from 2022. As we explained in a detailed article at the time, this premature cessation of Reaper deliveries should make it possible to finance a new family of more or less complex drones capable of resuming both the ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) missions and the strike operations currently devolved Reaper aircraft, while expanding the spectrum of missions that can be entrusted to unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Today, a first step has been taken towards this new family of military drones. On June 3, the USAF indeed published an information request (RFI - Request For Information) from various American manufacturers. Initially, the RFI should make it possible to identify the technological solutions available on the market, and those which may be brought to mature in the years to come. With the current Reaper, the USAF already masters the operational and logistical aspects linked to the use of MALE drones (medium altitude long endurance), and knows the limits of this type of platforms. As part of the RFI, the USAF will therefore focus on the question of the autonomy of drones, on artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital engineering and open mission systems.

MQ 9B Sky Guardian General Atomics Defense Analysis | Industrial consolidation Defense | Military aircraft construction
While the USAF is already looking for a replacement for the Reaper, its manufacturer General Atomics continues to promote its latest variant, the MQ-9B Sky Guardian. It is moreover not excluded that a classic platform of this type constitutes one of the members of the future family of USAF drones.

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