Marines to establish new drone squadron in Hawaii to counter China
The Marine Corps aims to set up a new squadron of MQ-9 Reaper drones in Hawaii for the explicit purpose of keeping a sharper and more persistent eye on China, Commandant Gen. David Berger told lawmakers Thursday.
These lethal, long-endurance, remotely-piloted aircraft — manufactured by General Atomics — have been used extensively by the Air Force to support overseas contingency operations and counterterrorism efforts during the post-9/11 wars.
Marines have been using Reapers for the last two years in the Middle East as part of what Berger called “a contractor-owned and contractor-operated learning phase” that enabled the quick training of its operators, with help from the Air Force. Building on that work, late last year the Marine Corps formally acquired two MQ-9s.
During a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing on…