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    HomeMilitaryEnhancing U.S. Military Might: The MQ-9 Reaper's New Cyber Guardian

    Enhancing U.S. Military Might: The MQ-9 Reaper’s New Cyber Guardian

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    MQ-9 Reaper during Exercise Northern Strike 2019” by Air National Guard is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    The MQ-9A Reaper, the U.S. military’s unmanned aerial behemoth, will now be shielded against the rising threats of cyber warfare, thanks to a new partnership between General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and Shift5.

    RAF Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Air System” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    This strategic collaboration is set to bolster the drone’s cybersecurity measures, granting superior protection and advanced maintenance capabilities to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

    MQ-9 Reapers Prepare to Launch” by New York National Guard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    The enhanced cybersecurity of the Reaper is poised to be a significant force multiplier, as articulated by GA-ASI President David R. Alexander: “Our partnership with Shift5 will empower AFSOC and SOCOM with a force multiplier for the Reaper’s resilience on the modern battlefield.”

    General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper” by cclark395 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    Shift5’s expertise in onboard operational technology (OT) observability will afford the Reaper real-time cyber anomaly detection – a vital defense against adversaries seeking to disrupt its operations.

    General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper – 42d Attack Squadron” by TDelCoro is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    On the maintenance front, predictive capabilities will allow for timely anticipation of potential equipment failures, enabling proactive interventions to maintain mission readiness.

    Folks Checking Out the MQ-9 Reaper Drone” by AvgeekJoe is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Josh Lospinoso, CEO and co-founder of Shift5, asserts that access to real-time data is central to maintaining an advantage with remotely piloted systems.

    MQ-9 Reaper pilot and MQ-9 sensor operator stand alongside their aircraft during Singapore Airshow 2020” by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    “Our work with GA-ASI represents one of the most efficient and effective ways that AFSOC and SOCOM can gain access to critical operational and cybersecurity insights,” Lospinoso explained.

    MQ-9 Takes Flight Over Central New York” by New York National Guard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    Shift5’s credibility is underscored by its achievement as the first company to receive a cross-platform Authority to Operate (ATO) Certification from the U.S. Department of Defense, and its successful efforts in securing the U.S. Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

    MQ-9 Predator B” by Ejército del Aire Ministerio de Defensa España is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    In light of recent events, the need for such enhancements is underscored. Three MQ-9 Reapers have been downed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels since November, as reported by a U.S. military official.

    MQ-9 2” by JoeM5952 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The drones, each valued at about $30 million, have been part of efforts to defend commercial and military ships against Houthi aggression in strategic waterways.

    General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper ARMEE DE L’AIR PARIS” by airlines470 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    The vulnerability of the MQ-9 Reaper in combat zones has been exposed as the Houthi rebels continue to claim downing of the high-value targets.

    General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1L Predator A” by rocbolt is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    In response, the U.S. has launched Operation Prosperity Guardian alongside over 20 partner nations to protect shipping lanes from Houthi incursions.

    Reaper UAV” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    These ongoing efforts highlight the necessity for the Reaper’s new cyber defenses, ensuring it remains an indispensable asset for operations in volatile regions.

    130424-F-NL936-265” by AirmanMagazine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    With the Reaper’s strategic importance reaffirmed by its role in recent military operations and its potential as a ‘Grunt Angel’ in the Pacific, the GA-ASI and Shift5 partnership fortifies not only the Reaper’s cyber and operational resilience but also the tactical advantage of U.S. Special Operations in the digital age.

    General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper” by hugh llewelyn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    The MQ-9A Reaper, now equipped to navigate the treacherous electronic landscape of modern warfare, remains a vigilant and more secure eye in the sky, supporting troops and missions that maintain global stability.

    Relevant articles:
    The MQ-9A Reaper Drone Gets a Guardian Angel, SOFREP
    3 U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drones, worth about $30 million each, have crashed in or near Yemen since November, cbsnews.com
    This Air Force drone just proved it can be a ‘Grunt Angel’ in a war with China, Task & Purpose
    Mattis’ “Guardian Angel” and How Marine Corps Aviation Can Get Back on Target, War on the Rocks

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