?xml:namespace>Germany and Italy have both made requests to buy the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial systems (UAS). ?xml:namespace>
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress about the requests for acquisitions through the Foreign Military Sales process on 1 August.
Germany has requested the possible sale of five Reapers and four mobile ground control stations plus support, training and spares. The value of Germany's procurement of the Reaper, if exercised, would be about US$205 million.
Italy's request is for four Reapers, four mobile ground control stations, five years of maintenance support, training and spares at a cost of US$330 million.
Berlin’s requirement for a UAS comes under the "imaging surveillance system for the depth of the deployment theatre" (SAATEG) programme. Rheinmetall Defence has teamed up with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to offer a version of the Heron TP.
Diehl BGT Defence signed an agreement with GA-ASI in June 2007 to market the Reaper for the SAATEG requirement. It is expected that the selected platform will enter service in 2010.
Italy's Reapers, if acquired, would join the Italian Air Force's RQ-1A Predators that are currently operated by the 32nd Wing's 28 Squadron at Amendola. Six Predators entered Aeronautica Militare service in 2005, later deploying in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is expected that when Italy proceeds with its order, the Reapers will enter service in about 2010/11. Italy's Chamber of Deputies originally approved the Reaper purchase in February 2008, but it is thought that a further attempt to proceed with an order was suspended until after the country had held a general election two months later.
The Reaper is already deployed in Afghanistan with the US and UK.
The US has since July 2008 additionally deployed the Reaper in Iraq. The UK is currently the only European nation equipped the Reaper.
The UK requested an FMS in December 2007 for a possible US$1.0 billion sale of ten further Reapers plus five mobile ground control stations, spares, training and logistical support.
With BAE Systems unveiling the armed Mantis UAS technology demonstrator programme in July 2008, it is now doubtful as to whether the UK will proceed with orders of further Reapers. Mantis is due to make its maiden flight in early 2009.