COCO Predators

The US Marine Corps, aiming to expand its near-term UAV capability, will use contractor-owned/contractoroperated (COCO) unarmed General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-1 Predators to support its training operations in the United States and its deployed operations in Afghanistan. The contract will require sufficient UAVs to maintain a single 16-hour daily orbit with UAVs on station, capable of being expanded to 24- hour coverage on a surge basis.

Contractor personnel will both fly the UAVs remotely and maintain them at forward operating locations. A US$39.5 million contract with GA-ASI was announced on June 19. The US Marine Corps is currently preparing to operated medium altitude long endurance UAVs comparable to the Predator. It has already had personnel trained by the Air Force and operationally embedded in US Air Force UAV operations. The Marines MUX (Marine Unmanned Expeditionary) program is for a UAV with range, speed and payload performance in the Predator/Reaper class but capable of operating from amphibious warfare ships and unpaved airfields. David C Isby