USMC to Train More MQ-9 Drone Pilots

The Corps intends to fill new squadrons.

The Marine Corps is expanding its “uncrewed systems” capabilities, having trained 100 MQ-9 Reaper pilots to fill new squadrons and extend reach and reconnaissance capabilities for its drone program. Leasing the MQ-9 Reaper in 2018, the Corps secured funding for drone purchases in 2020, coinciding with the establishment of the Reaper military occupational specialty. Despite a need for 68 pilots in 2022, the Corps had trained only 38 commissioned officers for this role.

Three units currently operate the Reaper: VMU-1 in Yuma, Arizona; UX-24 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland; and VMU-3 at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The Corps plans also include the establishment of the MQ-9A Fleet Replacement Squadron in North Carolina.

Despite a shortage of fixed-wing pilots, the Corps has maintained the use of commissioned officers for Reaper piloting roles. The Corps intends to field 20 Reaper drones over the next decade, underscoring the continued integration and expansion of uncrewed systems within its operational framework.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For Commandant General Eric Smith as he heads the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • For Secretary Carlos Del Toro as he oversees the U.S. Navy and Marines.
  • For U.S. military leaders as they seek to fill pilot and many other short-staffed roles.

Sources: Military Times, Marine Corps Times

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