MQ-9 Reaper: Unfettered for Export
May 30/17: General Atomics’ new MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAV has set a new flight endurance record by topping 48 hours in the air. The new variant of the Predator B broke the record during a flight at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., while carrying 6,065 pounds of internal fuel. It flew between 25,000 and 35,000 feet for the duration of the mission and landed 48.2 hours later. The previous endurance record was held by Predator XP, which flew 46.1 hours in February 2015.
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 – 2017
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: The Reaper Family
Background: Reaper Ancillaries
News & Views
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