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MADRID — The Spanish government gave the green light to buy four General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drones between 2015 to 2020 for €158 million (US $168.2 million), according to the Council of Ministers.

"The first two drones and a portable ground control station will be delivered to the Spanish Air Force in July 2017. The second ground control station will be delivered in October 2018, while the third and fourth Reaper will be transferred in April 2019 and April 2020", the same official sources said.

The MQ-9 Reaper, which has a wingspan of 20 meters and 27 hours of operation, is used by the UK, France and Italy, and has been ordered by the Netherlands. The Spanish Ministry of Defense also considered an offer of Israel Aerospace Industries with drone Heron TP. This General Atomics option favored by the Air Force, according to military sources.

The remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) will consist of four MQ-9 Reaper Block V, five electro-optical MTS-B HD EP/IR sensors, four radars SAR/MTI with maritime surveillance radar, two ground control stations and four automatic identification systems (AIS). It will also have a satellite communications terminal, support equipment, ground-based datalink terminals, anti-ice/de-ice capability and a system to avoid collisions.

The Reapers will not be armed, an MoD source told Defense News.

Spanish government has not publicized this acquisition much, only in the official reference of the Council of Ministers. Spain is holding general elections on Dec. 20.

The Spanish authorities recognizes the necessity of the RPAS acquisition due to "the asymmetric nature of new conflicts."The future missions of Spain's Reapers will include terrestrial and maritime identification, surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, combat support missions, electronic warfare, CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) detection, IED (improvised explosive devices) recognition and rescue and air rescue support operations.

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