The US has deployed eight MQ-9 Reaper drones to Larissa Air Base in central Greece for a year.
The first four unmanned aerial vehicles were assembled in Larissa while the rest arrived from U.S. bases in Europe ready to take operational action, according to a report in the newspaper Ta Nea.
The upgraded MQ-9 Reaper drones are the most technologically advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the world.
Two MQ-9 Reapers have operated in Larissa before, but they were older generations, and, at that time, their mission was to monitor areas of northern Africa. This time, the Americans sent eight drones with their own operating platforms and personnel although they are operated outside of Greece.
They have a radius of action of 1,850 kilometers and will operate in the Aegean and the wider area of the eastern Mediterranean.
The deployment was conducted as part of an agreement signed on November 1st between the US European Command (EUCOM) and the Greek army under the US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA).
The MDCA’s was signed by FM Dendias and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on October 14, 2021.
It explicitly states that the United States and Greece “resolve to defend sovereignty & territorial integrity both against actions threatening peace and armed aggression.”
The Greek military said that the deployment of the drones was part of efforts to improve cooperation with allied forces and would “contribute to NATO’s interoperability and deterrence.”
Greece in talks with the US to buy 3 MQ-9B drones
The Greek armed forces are negotiating to buy three American drones of the same type. On July 5, 2022, the Greek Parliament approved the acquisition of 3 MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAVs along with two ground stations.
With the acquisition of the MQ-9 Reaper, Greece will be able to monitor the sensitive area of the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond.
Such an Unmanned Aircraft can fly for almost twenty-four hours, transmitting image and sound in real-time. At the same time, its operators from the ground will have the possibility to change the forms of information with other types of cameras in pursuit of the required result.
The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.
In 2006, then Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley said, “We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.”