New Reaper Variant Stays Aloft Longer

New Reaper Variant Stays Aloft Longer image
September 23, 2015 | Source: Mark Pomerleau, Defense Systems

The Air Force and General Atomics have successfully fielded an new configuration of the MQ-9 Reaper that extends the endurance of the remotely piloted aircraft.

For the Reaper Extended Range, or Reaper ER, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. mounted an extra fuel tank to each wing that significantly extend its endurance, the contractor said in a release. The MQ-9’s current maximum endurance is 27 hours with a range of 1,150 miles. With the ER configuration, its endurance will reportedly be from 33 to about 40 hours.

General Atomics said that the Reaper ER program was a quick reaction requirement to support the Air Force. The company was challenged by the Air Force to deliver 38 Reaper ERs within 13 months, with operational capabilities in 18 months. A requirement that the extra fueld tanks be capable of being retrofitted to the aircraft in the field was included in the design as to allow fuel tanks and other equipment to be installed quickly on current Reapers in the Air Force’s fleet of 104 Reapers.