9/14/2006 – WASHINGTON (AFPN) — The Air Force chief of staff announced “Reaper” has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle.
The Air Force is the Department of Defense’s executive agent for designating and naming military aerospace vehicles.
In the case of the Reaper, Gen. T. Michael Moseley made the final decision after an extensive nomination and review process, coordinated with the other services.
“The name Reaper is one of the suggestions that came from our Airmen in the field. It’s fitting as it captures the lethal nature of this new weapon system,” General Moseley said.
The MQ-9 Reaper is the Air Force’s first hunter-killer UAV. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets with 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles.
“The Reaper represents a significant evolution in UAV technology and employment,” General 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.”
General Moseley stressed the key advantage is not keeping manned aircraft and pilots out of harm’s way, but the persistence UAVs can inherently provide. The Reaper can stay airborne for up to 14 hours fully loaded.
A 900-horsepower turbo-prop engine, compared to the 119-horsepower Predator engine, powers the aircraft. It has a 64-foot wingspan and carries more than 15 times the ordnance of the Predator, flying almost three times the Predator’s cruise speed.
The Air Force has seven MQ-9 Reapers in its inventory, with a full-rate production decision expected in 2009.
The Air Force is the global leader in UAV innovation, General Moseley said.
“Today, the Air Force can launch a UAV from a remote field on the other side of the globe, then pilot that aircraft from a base in the United States. These systems and the Airmen who operate them offer unprecedented flexibility to combatant commanders worldwide,” he said.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a medium-to-high altitude, long endurance remotely piloted aircraft system. The MQ-9’s primary mission is as a persistent hunter-killer against emerging targets in support of joint force commander objectives. The MQ-9’s secondary mission is to act as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset, employing sensors to provide real-time data to commanders and intelligence specialists at all levels.
The typical system consists of several air vehicles, a ground control station, communication equipment/links, spares and personnel who can be a mix of active duty and contractor personnel. The crew for the MQ-9 is a pilot and a sensor operator, who operate the aircraft from a remotely located GCS. To meet combatant commanders’ requirements, the MQ-9 delivers tailored capabilities using mission kits that may contain various weapons and sensor payload combinations.
The MQ-9 baseline system has a robust sensor suite for targeting. Imagery is provided by an infrared sensor, a color/monochrome daylight TV and an image-intensified TV. The video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused with the IR sensor video. The laser rangefinder/designator provides the capability to precisely designate targets for laser-guided munitions. Synthetic aperture radar will enable Joint Direct Attack Munitions targeting. The aircraft is also equipped with a color nose camera, generally used by the pilot for flight control.
Each MQ-9 aircraft can be disassembled into main components and loaded into a container for air deployment worldwide in Air Force airlift assets such as the C-130. The MQ-9 air vehicle operates from standard U.S. airfields.
The U.S. Air Force proposed the MQ-9 system in response to the Department of Defense request for Global War on Terrorism initiatives. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets. The “M” is the Department of Defense designation for multi-role and “Q” means unmanned aircraft system. The “9” refers to the series of purpose-built remotely piloted aircraft systems.
In June 2003, the Air Combat Command Commander approved the MQ-9 Concept of Operations. The MQ-9 is based at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.
Primary Function: Unmanned hunter/killer weapon system
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
Power Plant: Allied Signal TPE331-10GD turboprop engine, producing 900 shaft horsepower
Length: 36 feet (11 meters)
Height: 12.5 feet (3.8 meters)
Weight: 3,700 pounds (1,676 kilograms) empty
Maximum takeoff weight: 10,500 pounds (4,760 kilograms)
Wingspan: 66 feet (20.1 meters)
Combat Radius: 1,655 nautical miles (1,878 miles)
Ceiling: up to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters)
Fuel Capacity: 4,000 pounds (602 gallons)
Payload: 3,750 pounds (1,701 kilograms)
Armament: Combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
Crew (remote): Two (pilot and sensor operator)
System Cost: $69.1 million (includes four aircraft with sensors) (fiscal 2006 dollars)
Inventory: Active force, 9; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0