Spanish Government OKs Reaper Buy
AeroBD-London, Novemver 07, 2015 : The Spanish government has given the green light to the country’s defense ministry to purchase General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper medium altitude, long endurance (MALE) UAVs. Following an Oct. 30 budget review by ministers, Madrid has decided to proceed with the order for four Block 5 MQ-9 platforms and two Mobile Ground Control Stations for €161 million ($176 million), with €50 million coming from 2015 funding and the remainder in installments between 2016 and 2020.
The go-ahead comes after the U.S. State Department approved a Spanish Foreign Military Sales request, details of which were published by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Oct. 6. Spanish officials described the Reaper purchase as a medium-term solution, with the UAVs being used within and outside Spain’s national territory. The Spanish systems will be unarmed, but fitted with a Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS-B) and the Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar. The Reapers will be flown by the Spanish air force and their operation supported by the Spanish army and navy.
For the long-term, Spain has joined France, Germany and Italy in the development of a European-built MALE UAV for the 2020s, although the countries have yet to agree on a platform configuration. The delivery of a MALE UAV capability has long been a high priority for the Spanish air force, despite Spain facing one of its toughest periods of economic uncertainty following the global economic crisis.
Spanish engineering group Sener will be the local partner. It signed a contract with General Atomics to promote the system’s sale early this year. The only rival bid came from the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP system, in association with Indra. The purchase will make Spain the fifth European country to opt for the Reaper, following France, Italy, the Netherlands and the U.K.