“Procurement funds in the amount of $279,144,933 are being obligated at the time of award,” the statement said. “The contractor will provide 24 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper aircraft and associated spare parts, support equipment and spares.”
While Reaper drones are primarily used for intelligence gathering, they can also deploy Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs, according to the Air Force.
Critics have charged that the done strikes violate international law and result in civilian deaths. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez criticized the Obama administration over the killing of 16 civilians by US drone strikes in Yemen at two separate wedding processions.
“A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if, as in this case, it results in serious physical or mental pain and suffering for the innocent victims,” Mendez said in a statement.
General Atomics is expected to finish and deliver the Reaper drones by September 2017, according to the Defense Department.