Weapons Approved for Italian MQ-9s

The State Department approved Italy’s request to arm its MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft with Hellfire missiles and precision guided munitions and notified Congress of the potential foreign military sale on Nov. 4. The NATO ally is seeking to “enhance” its ability to share the burden of coalition operations, increase the combat usefulness of its RPAs, and “increase the survivability of Italian deployed forces,” according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notice. The Italian air force currently operates a fleet of six MQ-9s. The proposed $129.6 million sale would include aircraft weaponization kits and hardware, as well as an initial batch of 156 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, a total of 60 laser guided and enhanced laser-guided bombs, 30 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 30 Laser JDAMs, as well as training aids, spares, support equipment, and training assistance. Italy initially sought to arm its Reapers in line with Air Force capabilities back in 2012. In addition to Italy, NATO allies Britain and France already operate the Reaper, and Spain requested the purchase of four MQ-9s earlier this month.