Spain plans to purchase two General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Block 5 Reapers for $34 million via the US foreign military sales process.
The acquisition also provides for associated equipment, presumably ground control stations, spares and support equipment. The unmanned air vehicles are expected to be completed by 31 March 2020, according to a US Defense Department contract notice online.
The US State Department approved the sale of four MQ-5 Block 5 Reapers to Spain for $243 million in 2015. That deal would have included 20 embedded global positioning system and inertial guidance units, two mobile ground control stations, five multi-spectral targeting systems and five synthetic aperture radars. Also proposed was contractor logistics support for two years and personnel training, as well as aircraft components, spares and accessories.
At the time, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency determined the sale would enhance the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability of the Spanish military.
“Commonality of ISR capabilities increases interoperability between US and Spanish forces and provides a common interface with other MQ-9 NATO operators, including the United Kingdom, France and Italy,” said the agency’s notice. “The Spanish Air Force intends to use the MQ-9s for homeland security, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism operations. The proposed sale improves Spain's ability to meet current and future threats by providing improved ISR coverage that promotes increased battlefield situational awareness, anticipates enemy intent, augments combat search and rescue, and provides ground troop support.”
Spain is the latest European NATO country to sign up for General Atomics’ drones. Also in March 2019, Belgium gained State Department approval for a potentially $600 million acquisition of four MQ-9B SkyGuardians and the Royal Netherlands Air Force signed a $123 million contract to buy four MQ-9 Block 5 Reapers.