January 10, 2008:
Britain is spending a
billion dollars to buy ten more U.S. MQ-9 Reaper UAVs. Just the aircraft alone
cost $18 million each. The 4.7 ton Reaper has a wingspan of 66 feet and a
payload of 1.7 tons. Also called the "Predator B", only ten are currently in
service, with another four being delivered this
year. Reaper is considered a combat aircraft, because it can carry over
a ton of bombs or missiles. This includes the hundred pound Hellfire missile,
and 500 pound laser or GPS guided smart bombs.
Britain already has three Reapers in
action or on order. These were acquired via an "under urgent operational
requirement deal" to support British troops in Afghanistan.
In addition to the ten UAVs, Britain is
also purchasing five Ground Control Stations, nine Multi-Spectral Targeting
Systems, nine Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator systems, three Satellite Earth Terminal Sub
Stations, 30 Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation Systems, as well as
spare parts, test equipment, various types of technical support, and
communications equipment. There are also multi-year contracts for technical assistance and training/equipment
and all manner of manufacturer support. Thus the long term cost of about $100
per UAV. This is typical with any kind of aircraft, and this total is called
the lifecycle cost.