MQ-9 Reaper: Unfettered for Export
January 9/18: Reaper Block 5 Kits General Atomics received Wednesday, a $14.1 million USAF contract to supply MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 kits to the service, that will include extended-range kits, beyond-line-of-sight kits and Barrett Asymmetrical Digital Datalink Computer Routers. Work will be performed in Poway, California, with an expected completion date of February 21, 2021. The upgrade comes as the USAF starts to phase out the older MQ-1 Predator drone from service, and the kits will go towards upgrading earlier versions of the Reaper to the most modern Block 5 configuration—which gives the UAVs increased electrical power, secure communications, auto land, increased gross takeoff weight, weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration capabilities.
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 – 2018
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: The Reaper Family
Background: Reaper Ancillaries
News & Views
Fill in the secure form below to activate your subscription right away (or pick another plan)