Reaper Versus Jolly Roger

The US Navy plans to operate a small contingent of unarmed MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Vehicles from the Seychelles islands in the western Indian Ocean to help patrol for pirates threatening sea commerce off of the coast of Africa. This over-water surveillance mission, called Ocean Look, came about at the request of US Africa Command, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Callie Ferrari told the Daily Report. AFRICOM spokesman Vince Crawley said the Reapers deployed for Ocean Look will be “enough to allow one air patrol per day.” Unlike Air Force MQ-9s that carry a load of bombs and air-to-surface missiles, Crawley said there is no intention of arming these Reapers. They will be primarily operated by controllers in theater, he said. The Navy will deploy the Reapers from its pool of four MQ-9s that it has been using as flying testbed platforms for sensor testing and integration out at NAS China Lake, Calif. Ferrari said the sea service has no plans at this time to procure additional MQ-9s. (For more, read Time Magazine’s Sept. 4 report.)