MQ-9 Reaper: Unfettered for Export
March 8/19: Fully Operational in Poland The US Air Force achieved full operational capability of the the MQ-9 Reaper at Miroslawiec Air Base in Poland. The General Atomics-developed remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) have been operating out of Poland since May. The UAV is capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations. It is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. The Reaper is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator. It is planned to be in service into the 2030s. Air Forces in Europe christened a new set of facilities at Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland on March 1 to help accommodate the Air National Guardsmen and contractors operating Reapers there. The Air Force chose Poland for the mission because of its strategic location in Europe. RPA aircraft are now operated by both contractors and US military personnel. The US military now shares control of the Reapers at Miroslawiec during takeoff, flight and aircraft recovery with the contractors.
The MQ-9 Reaper UAV, once called “Predator B,” is somewhat similar to the famous Predator. Until you look at the tail. Or its size. Or its weapons. It’s called “Reaper” for a reason: while it packs the same surveillance gear, it’s much more of a hunter-killer design. Some have called it the first fielded Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV).
The Reaper UCAV will play a significant role in the future USAF, even though its capability set makes the MQ-9 considerably more expensive than MQ-1 Predators. Given these high-end capabilities and expenses, one may not have expected the MQ-9 to enjoy better export success than its famous cousin. Nevertheless, that’s what appears to be happening. MQ-9 operators currently include the USA and Britain, who use it in hunter-killer mode, and Italy. Several other countries are expressing interest, and the steady addition of new payloads are expanding the Reaper’s advantage over competitors…
The MQ-9 Reaper, and its Little Brothers
Competitors & Prospects
Future Planning & Developments
Contracts & Key Events, 2005 SDD – Present
FY 2014 – 2019
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: The Reaper Family
Background: Reaper Ancillaries
News & Views
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