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MQ-9 Reaper

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The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (sometimes called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, one component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF).

Design #

A typical MQ-9 system consists of multiple aircraft, ground control station, communications equipment, maintenance spares, and personnel. A military flight crew includes a pilot, sensor operator, and Mission Intelligence Coordinator.[5] The aircraft is powered by a 950 horsepower (710 kW) turboprop, with a maximum speed of about 260 knots (480 km/h; 300 mph) and a cruising speed of 150–170 knots (170–200 mph; 280–310 km/h).[36]

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 (230 kg) laser-guided bomb units.[36] Its endurance is 30 hours when conducting ISR missions, which decreases to 23 hours if it is carrying a full weapons load.[37] The Reaper has a range of 1,000 nmi (1,150 mi; 1,850 km)[dubious – discuss] 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.[38]

An MQ-9 can adopt various mission kits and combinations of weapon and sensor payloads to meet combat requirements. Its Raytheon AN/AAS-52[citation needed] multi-spectral targeting sensor suite includes a color/monochrome daylight TV, infrared, and image-intensified TV with laser rangefinder/laser designator to designate targets for laser guided munitions.[citation needed] The aircraft is also equipped with the Lynx Multi-mode Radar that contains synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that can operate in both spotlight and strip modes, and ground moving target indication (GMTI) with Dismount Moving Target Indicator (DMTI) and Maritime Wide-Area Search (MWAS) capabilities.[41]

The Reaper was used as a test bed for Gorgon Stare, a wide-area surveillance sensor system.[42] Increment 1 of the system was first fielded in March 2011 on the Reaper and could cover an area of 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi); increment 2, incorporating ARGUS-IS and expanding the coverage area to 100 km2 (39 sq mi), achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in early 2014. The system has 368 cameras capable of capturing five million pixels each to create an image of about 1.8 billion pixels; video is collected at 12 frames per second, producing several terabytes of data per minute.[43]

Variants #

SeaGuardian #

A navalized Reaper, named Mariner, was proposed for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program. It had an increased fuel capacity for an endurance of up to 49 hours.[205] Variations included one for aircraft carrier operations with folding wings for storage, shortened, reinforced landing gear, an arresting hook, cut-down or eliminated ventral flight surfaces and six stores pylons for a total load of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms).

MQ-9 Block 5 #

The Block 1-plus version was designed for increased electrical power, secure communications, automatic landing, increased gross takeoff weight (GTOW), weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration capabilities. A new high-capacity starter generator offers increased electrical power capacity to provide growth capacity; a backup generator is also present and is sufficient for all flight-critical functions, improving the electrical power system’s reliability via three independent power sources.

SkyGuardian #

International demand for a MALE RPAS capable of being certified for operation within civilian airspace drove General Atomics to develop a version of the platform known by GA-ASI as MQ-9B SkyGuardian, previously called Certifiable Predator B, to make it compliant with European flight regulations to get more sales in European countries. In order to fly over national airspace, the aircraft meets NATO STANAG 4671 airworthiness requirements with lightning protection, different composite materials, and sense and avoid technology.

Protector #

Specifications #

General characteristics #

Length: 36 ft 1 in (11 m)
Wingspan: 65 ft 7 in (20 m)
Height: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 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)[248]

Performance #

Maximum speed: 300 mph (482 km/h, 260 kn)
Cruise speed: 194 mph (313 km/h, 169 kn) [249]
Range: 1,200 mi (1,900 km, 1,000 nmi)
Endurance: 27 hr[250]
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,420 m)
Operational altitude: 25,000 ft (7.5 km)[251]

Armament #

7 hardpoints

Up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) on the two inboard weapons stations[252]
Up to 750 lb (340 kg) on the two middle stations[252]
Up to 150 lb (68 kg) on the outboard stations[252]
Center station not used

Up to eight 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[needs update] to support the operation of the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS). In March 2014, MBDA successfully test fired a dual mode Brimstone missile from a Reaper aircraft on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence and Royal Air Force.[253] Depending on mission requirements, the MQ-9 Reaper can carry multiple AIM-9 Sidewinder Block 2 missiles.[254]

Avionics #

AN/DAS-1 MTS-B Multi-Spectral Targeting System[255]
AN/APY-8 Lynx II radar[256]
Raytheon SeaVue Marine Search Radar (Guardian variants)[98]


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