The Air Force is seeking contractors to “launch” MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones all around the world, according to a “pre-proposal conference” notice it posted Thursday.
While the language suggests the contract largely involves maintaining the drone fleet, it also seems to call for more than that:
— Contractor shall launch additional aircraft as required to support a combat air patrol when original aircraft is unable to support mission requirements (ex: maintenance abort, fuel/munitions, etc.).
— Any commander directed sortie shall be deemed ineffective if the aircraft air aborts for any maintenance malfunction during the first 2 hours — Contractor shall launch a spare aircraft to replace the primary aircraft.
— Government may need to divert MQ-1 or MQ-9 aircraft to a base other than the originating base, due to an in-flight emergency, unforeseen maintenance problems, unpredicted weather issues, or for other unforeseen circumstances — Contractor shall recover, service aircraft, upload/download weapons, perform required maintenance, and launch aircraft.
We asked Air Force officials for details, but they weren’t forthcoming.
A number of companies have expressed interest in keeping the drones flying: AAI Corporation, American Operations Corporation, Battlespace Flight Services, LLC, BOSH Global Services, Camber Corporation, DynCorp International, Raytheon Technical Services Company, Rockwell Collins, URS Corp. and V2 Aerospace Inc.