Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says it plans to award a sole source contract to General Atomics to buy up to 14 additional MQ-9 Predator unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and related equipment as well as operations and maintenance (O&M) services.

The pending award follows one last month by CBP to General Atomics valued at up to $128.3 million for O&M services for the agency’s existing fleet of Predator UAS (HSR, Oct. 24). The initial task order for that award is for $24.5 million.

CBP’s Office of Air and Marine (OAM) currently has nine MQ-9 aircraft, five of which are the baseline Predator B, which are used for border patrol surveillance and operations, and the Guardian, a multirole version of the aircraft that can deploy with maritime and land radar systems. Currently an additional Guardian is under contract for future delivery.

The pending contract includes $237.7 million for the 14 aircraft and related systems. Those systems would be procured through an initial task order and three options.

The task orders for O&M over a five year period would be worth up to $205.4 million if all options are exercised.

However, when and if additional aircraft are purchased remains to be seen. The Guardian UAS on order was budgeted for in FY ’11. CBP didn’t request any MQ-9 UAS in either FY ’12 or FY ’13.

OAM has a requirement for 24 UAS, including a maritime capable aircraft.

In addition to the UAS, OAM has also acquired five ground control stations from General Atomics and is awaiting delivery of four more.