Marines Lay Out Plans For Their Own MQ-9 Reaper Drone Force In New Budget Request

Reapers fall into what the U.S. military refers to as “Group 5” unmanned aircraft, which refer to drones with a maximum takeoff weight of 1,320 pounds or more that can fly at altitudes of 18,000 feet or higher. This the top tier, so it includes a wide variety of pilotless planes with very disparate capabilities, from the MQ-9 to the much higher flying and much longer endurance RQ-4 Global Hawk.

But at present, the Marines do not have any drones more capable than “Group 3,” which covers types with maximum takeoff weights between 56 and 1,319 pounds, that cannot fly higher than 18,000 feet, and that have top speeds slower than 300 miles per hour. The Corps’ most capable unmanned aircraft at present is the RQ-21A Blackjack, which weighs around 135 pounds and a maximum

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