Global Air Logistics and Training, Northrop Grumman and L3 Harris Technologies will help the U.S. Navy develop a network pod to expand the mission capabilities of the U.S. Marine Corps’ MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle.
Work on the first phase of the Reaper Airborne Network Extension Skytower II program will be under an $8.4 million contract awarded using other transaction authority, Naval Air Systems Command said Monday.
The three companies will develop STII and aim to support the General Atomics-built drone’s operational missions by expanding its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
Specifically, the MQ-9 Reaper network advancement effort seeks to simplify the retransmission, cross-branding and data translation across connected networks. It also targets to fortify battle space awareness and information-sharing capacities between naval and Joint Force.
Michelle Dutko, STII team lead at the multi-mission tactical unmanned air system program office, said the Navy and Marine Corps intend to demo a prototype system on a substitute aircraft and then on an MQ-9A aircraft after the research and development phase is done.
The MQ-9 Reaper, equipped with the new system, is expected to be deployed in 2026.