General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper
|COMBAT DRONE||Virtual Aircraft Museum / USA / General Atomics|
The MQ-9 Reaper (sometimes called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations developed primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF).
The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. It 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 950hp turboprop engine (compared to the Predator's 115hp 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.
The first prototype flew on 2 February 2001. On 1 May 2007, the USAF's 432d Wing was activated to operate MQ-9 Reaper as well as MQ-1 Predator UAVs at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The pilots first conducted combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the summer of 2007. On 28 October 2007, the Air Force Times reported an MQ-9 had achieved its first "kill", successfully firing a Hellfire missile against Afghanistan insurgents in the Deh Rawood region of the mountainous Oruzgan province.
The USAF operated 195 MQ-9 Reapers as of September 2016, and plans to keep the MQ-9 in service into the 2030s.
By the end of 2019 more than 60 MQ-9s were shot down or lost due to various equipment failures.
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