Future Trends

100th ‘Reaper’ Drone Pilot Completes Marine Corps Training

UAV pilot training

100th ‘Reaper’ Drone Pilot Completes Marine Corps Training

The U.S. Marine Corps has trained 100 pilots to fly the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system, exceeding the service’s expectations in 2022.

The training milestone is part of the Marine Corps’ efforts to extend its drone-based ISR capabilities by equipping new squadrons with unmanned systems. In 2022, the USMC had trained just 38 pilots out of the 68 it needed.

The Marine Corps initially leased the Reaper drone in 2018, purchased its own drones in 2020 and created the Reaper military occupational specialty in the same year. Capt. Alyssa Myers, an aviation spokesperson for the Marine Corps, said the service plans to deploy 20 Reaper drones in 10 years, Interesting Engineering reported.

Other military branches experimented with the MQ-9 drones in 2023.

In December, the Texas Air National Guard’s 147th Attack Wing received a Block 5 MQ-9 Reaper equipped with upgraded communications systems, data links and sensors. The upgrades improved range, endurance and effectiveness, allowing the 147 ATKW to operate more precisely and adapt to changing mission environments.

In June, the U.S. Air Force landed an MQ-9 on a dirt strip for the first time. The feat indicates that the drone’s operations cannot be limited by the lack of traditional runways.

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Category: Future Trends

Tags: Alyssa Myers Future Trends Interesting Engineering MQ-9 Reaper pilot training unmanned systems US Marine Corps