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MQ 9 Reaper Drone now has Air To Air Combat Capability

The U.S. Air Force has released its latest request for information as it sets out more requirements for the replacement for its MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle, a program now dubbed MQ-Next. The new document indicates that the service is looking at a future drone that will feature defensive counter-air capabilities to protect high-value manned aircraft, such as tankers, as well as potentially fly red air aggressor missions.

The request for information (RFI) from the Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) was recently published on the U.S. government’s contracting website beta.SAM.gov. A previous RFI, released last June, focused on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capabilities for the MQ-9 replacement, which the Air Force hopes will offer reduced operating costs and greater persistence, survivability, and range. While the latest RFI doesn’t mention MQ-Next by name, it does explicitly state that the information sought is related to the replacement of the MQ-9.

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