The US Air Force has committed to the second phase of a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air system structure review, which will see the integrity of the airframe tested as part of routine aircraft analysis.

According to a pre-solicitation notice issued by the medium-altitude UAS division of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on 18 June, a contract for the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft structural integrity program (ASIP) Phase 2 effort will be awarded to General Atomics “to assess the capability of the airframe to meet structural integrity”.

The ASIP programme began in 2011, when the USAF contracted the company to create a “master plan” for the activity, a spokesperson from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, told Flightglobal.

The air force subsequently contracted General Atomics for ASIP Phase 1 in June 2013 – essentially an effort to include planning, testing and analysis to get to the new portion of the programme. Phase 2 is a continuation of Phase 1, but includes actual structural testing of the aircraft.

The USAF says ASIP are common throughout any aircraft programme, and is not unique to the MQ-9.

“The government does not own the data rights for the system, therefore, to avoid duplication costs, the government intends to award the effort” as per agency requirements, the pre-solicitation notice adds.