The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (sometimes called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF).
The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF to indicate their human ground controllers.
The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.
In 2006, the then–Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley said: “We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.”
The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier General Atomics MQ-1 Predator; it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine (compared to the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine). The greater power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of the MQ-1.
The aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS), including weapons employment.
In 2008, the New York Air National Guard 174th Attack Wing began the transition from F-16 piloted fighters to MQ-9A Reapers, becoming the first fighter unit to convert entirely to unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) use. In March 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system. The Reaper is also used by the United States Navy, the CIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, NASA, and the militaries of several other countries.
The MQ Reaper drone can go as fast as 482 kilometres per hour (kph). While that may be slower than some other drones in the market like the Northrop Grumman RQ Global Hawk that can hit 629 kph its one of the marginal compromises made in exchange for stealth.
The drone has been described as one of the most silent drones ever built.
During the Aviation Nation airshow the MQ Reaper drone was out of place among the other earsplitting aircraft. It silently flew by for a single demo reportedly sending shivers down viewers spines as its Honeywell TPE turboprop engine barely made a peep.
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.
The aircraft is powered by a 950 horsepower 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). 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 laser-guided bomb units.
Endurance is 30 hours when conducting ISR missions, which decreases to 23 hours if it is carrying a full weapons load. The Reaper has a range of 1,000 nmi (1,150 mi; 1,850 km) 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.
The 63 million dollar drone has been described as one of the most efficient, trustworthy unmanned aircraft in the history of USA Service aircrafts with it’s up to date, state-of-the-art technologies.
General Soleimani never stood a chance against this death-bringing machine.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK