The Air Force recently awarded General Atomics a $371 million contract for 30 more MQ-9 Reapers. The sole-source contract calls for production of the aircraft in its 2015 production configuration, with delivery expected to be completed by 2019. The contract comes as the Air Force is working to build up its remotely piloted aircraft fleet, including new operating locations. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said last ?week the service will release a list of candidate bases for two new RPA operating bases—one wing and a operations group—this fall. The Air Force plans to procure 75 more MQ-9s as a way to address overworked manpower and capacity issues. (See Also: Don’t Fear the Reaper from the February 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.