The General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper is included in a possibly $2.3 billion, seven-year contract awarded last month to an SMX team for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), General Atomics said on Nov. 14.

The Reaper “will continue to support prime contractor SMX who was recently awarded a task order to provide [AFRICOM] Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) mission and intelligence analysis operations. GA-ASI is a major subcontractor to SMX for the AFRICOM Reconnaissance Intelligence Exploitation Services (ARIES) task order with an estimated value of $2.3 billion (inclusive of option periods).”

“The contract will cover continued ISR services for AFRICOM using six MQ-9As produced by GA-ASI, which will make up three lines with two aircraft each,” per General Atomics. “The MQ-9As are supplied by GA-ASI as part of a company-owned, company-operated (COCO) lease agreement.”

“ARIES, like its predecessor task order, is a complex, multi-tenant task order providing cutting-edge full lifecycle intelligence solutions through cloud-enabled data insights and decision analytics,” the company said. “ARIES’ objective is to improve the United States’ ability to observe, orient, decide and act faster and more effectively on the information provided through an innovative system of systems intelligence collection and dissemination eco-system.”

Fred Darlington, senior vice president for MQ-9 systems at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., said in the Nov. 14 General Atomics statement that he believes that the company’s “success in winning the ARIES subcontract is due to the great work the team has provided for the past three years on the continent.”

AFRICOM has employed the MQ-9A in African nations, such as Somalia, to combat Al Shabab and other groups.

SMX is a successor firm to Trident Technologies, Smartronix, Datastrong, and C2S Consulting Group and began operations under the name SMX last year.

Other than AFRICOM, SMX has supported U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific and U.S. Southern Command, SMX said, adding that its “innovative platforms, sensors, and advanced analytics fill in crucial needs when military inventory assets are insufficient in number or deployed elsewhere.”

COCO ISR operations “allow intelligence teams to rapidly establish or redirect ISR assets to areas of need, especially where COCO hardware is less visible or attention-grabbing than military inventory,” the company said.  “SMX has supported nearly all of the major combatant command (COCOM) mission areas, including humanitarian aid, disaster relief, coalition/partner nation building, regional development and stability, persons/targets of interest, threat deterrence, maritime dominance, and contingency response.”

In addition to the recent AFRICOM contract, some House lawmakers want the U.S. to send Reapers and General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagles to aid Ukraine in its defense against Russia (Defense Daily, Sept. 22).