Reaper Money Moves

The Air Force will get its wish and be able to buy 48 MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft in Fiscal 2012 under the House defense appropriators’ mark of the next year’s defense spending bill. However, the air vehicles’ configuration will be different than originally requested. The lawmakers cut $114 million from the Air Force’s $813 million request for the 48 MQ-9s and also trimmed $32 million from the $181 million sought for MQ–9 modifications next fiscal year to reflect delays in the fielding of the Reaper’s Block 5 configuration, which adds communications and sensor improvements to the combat-proven platform. The funding they allotted will still buy 48 MQ-9 air vehicles, only in the Block 1 configuration, thereby still supporting the Defense Secretary’s goal to have 65 combat air patrols of Reapers and MQ-1 Predators available to US forces in Southwest Asia in 2013. Continue