The new RPA was delivered, along with a new Mobile Ground Control Station, as part of a Mid-Life Modernization of the Italian fleet of Predator RPAs.
General Atomics just disclosed that on Nov.9, 2023, the Italian Air Force flew for the first time with its new MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft. The Predator (the name Reaper has not been adopted in Italy) was delivered along with a new Mobile Ground Control Station as part of a Mid-Life Modernization of the Italian RPA fleet.
The Mid Life Modernization includes the procurement of two new MQ-9A Block 5 aircraft and a ground station, part of a Foreign Military Sale approved in 2009, in addition to the upgrade of the other five to the same configuration. One of the new Predators (the name Reaper has not been adopted in Italy) will replace the one shot down in Libya in 2019.
“The Italian Air Force has long been a leader in using the MQ-9 Reaper to support a wide range of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in Italy, over the Mediterranean, and in support of NATO operations,” said GA-ASI Vice President of International Strategic Development Jaime Walters. “The delivery of this new Block 5 and MGCS will help to update the Italian Air Force’s existing fleet.”
The Block 5 RPA provides a significant increase in electrical power generation, auto takeoff and landing capability with improved landing gear and datalinks, and the latest version of the GA-ASI Lynx Multi-mode Radar. Pilots and sensor operators started their training programme in June at the Flight Test & Training Center (FTTC) in Grand Forks, North Dakota, which is managed by General Atomics.
The training commenced with the Instructor Difference Training (IDT) specifically designed for Italian instructors from the 32° Stormo (Wing), completing the MQ-9 Block 1 to Block 5 Transition Courses and basic qualification, tailored to meet the requirements of the existing Block 1 aircrew. General Atomics said the training also included live flight exercises with the company’s aircraft.