General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (formerly named Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force. UAVs are also referred to as drones. The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the U.S. Air Force to indicate their human ground controllers. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier MQ-1 Predator; it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine, far more powerful than the Predator's 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine. The power increase allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at almost three times the speed of the MQ-1. The aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS), including weapons employment.

In 2008, the New York Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing began the transition from F-16 piloted fighters to MQ-9 Reapers, becoming the first fighter squadron conversion to an all–unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) attack squadron. In March 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system. The Reaper is also used by the United States Navy, the CIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, NASA, and others.

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."

Role Unmanned combat air vehicle
National origin United States
Manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
First flight 2 February 2001
Introduction 1 May 2007
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Royal Air Force
Aeronautica Militare
Number built 57
Program cost US$11.8 billion
Unit cost US$16.9 million (flyaway cost, 2013)
Developed from General Atomics MQ-1 Predator
Developed into General Atomics Avenger

Design

The typical MQ-9 system is composed of multiple aircraft, ground-control stations, satellites, and flight and maintenance crews. The aircraft is powered by a 950 horsepower turboprop, with a maximum speed of about 260 knots (300 miles per hour or 483 km per hour) and a cruising speed of 150-170 knots (278 to 315 km/hour). With a 66 ft (20 m) wingspan, and a maximum payload of 3,800 lb (1,700 kg), the MQ-9 can be armed with a variety of weaponry, including Hellfire missiles and 500-lb laser-guided bomb units. The Reaper has a range of 3,682 mi (5,926 km) and an operational altitude of 50,000 ft (15,000 m), which makes it especially useful for long-term loitering operations, both for surveillance and support of ground troops.

All Predator variants are designed for military operations, not to operate among crowded airline traffic. The Predator lacks systems capable of complying with FAA See-And-Avoid regulations.

Specifications

Honeywell turboprop
MQ-9 Reaper taxiing.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 0 onboard, 2 in ground station
  • Length: 36 ft 1 in (11 m)
  • Wingspan: 65 ft 7 in (20 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 10 in (3.6 m)
  • Empty weight: 4,901 lb (2,223 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 10,494 lb (4,760 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 4,000 lb (1,800 kg)
  • Payload: 3,800 lb (1,700 kg)
    • Internal: 800 lb (360 kg)
    • External: 3,000 lb (1,400 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop, 900 hp (671 kW) with Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 300 mph; 260 kn (482 km/h)
  • Cruising speed: 194 mph; 169 kn (313 km/h) 
  • Range: 1,150 mi; 999 nmi (1,850 km)
  • Endurance: 14 hours fully loaded
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
  • Operational altitude: 25,000 ft (7.5 km)

Armament

  • 7 hardpoints
  • Up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) on the two inboard weapons stations
  • Up to 750 lb (340 kg) on the two middle stations
  • Up to 150 lb (68 kg) on the outboard stations
  • Center station not used
  • Up to 14 AGM-114 Hellfire air to ground missiles can be carried or four Hellfire missiles and two 500 lb (230 kg) GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The 500 lb (230 kg) GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) can also be carried. Testing is underway to support the operation of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missile.

Avionics

  • AN/APY-8 Lynx II radar
  • Raytheon SeaVue Marine Search Radar, on the Guardian variants
  • AN/DAS-1 MTS-B Multi-Spectral Targeting System

Source

The information contained on this page is unclassified, approved for public dissemination and is released under CC-BY-SA Licensing Agreement.



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