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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) has announced the commencement of a series of service-level training exercises (SLTE) 2-23 to support the US Marine Corps (USMC).

The effort involves the company’s MQ-9A uncrewed aircraft system (UAS), and the participation of joint forces and the US Marine Air-Ground Task Force Training Command (MAGTFTC).

The latest iteration of SLTE is being held near Twentynine Palms, California. The participating units and forces are performing activities to prepare themselves to operate in a dynamic environment.

The use of GA-ASI’s MQ-9A supported the first-time integration of the USMC’s Group 5 uncrewed aircraft with the MAGTFTC for several drills.

MQ-9A and GA-ASI’s VMU-3 pilots and sensor operators began operating from GA-ASI’s facility at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, from 3 February for the exercise.

They also flew above the training ranges in the southwestern United States.

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The major role of MQ-9A is to deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data packages, providing situational awareness and simulated close air support to the USMC.

GA-ASI DoD Strategic Development vice-president Patrick Shortsleeve said: “We know that being able to utilise an actual MQ-9A is critical to the success of these exercises, and helps the USMC ramp up their training programme.”

Other exercises covered under the recent SLTE programme included a MAGTF warfighting exercise, a live-fire integrated training exercise, a marine littoral regiment training exercise and force-on-force training.

Specific activities undertaken by MAGTFTC for the SLTE programme included simulated and live-fire armed training.

This training primarily aimed to improve the readiness of the Fleet Marine Forces, while simultaneously contributing to support for the USMC’s national security responsibilities.

In 2022, GA-ASI secured a contract to deliver eight MQ-9A extended-range UAS to the USMC.