MQ-9 Reaper: Unfettered for Export
August 24/16: General Atomics has been contracted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to develop a laser tracking system for the MQ-9 Reaper UAV. Valued at $9.6 million, the contract will set the company to design, build and test in the lab key laser subsystems to demonstrate precision tracking. Furthermore, the company will develop and demonstrate an MQ-9 flight representative laser system with the beam train optics required to upgrade a multi-spectral targeting system for use as an active tracking sensor.
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 – 2016
FY 2005 – 2007
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: The Reaper Family
Background: Reaper Ancillaries
News & Views
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