Military Embedded Systems

Predator UAV gets endurance enhancements


April 19, 2012

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

WASHINGTON. Officials at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA ASI) unveiled extended endurance enhancements for its Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) fleet.

“We’ve designed field retrofitable capabilities -- lengthened wings, wing-borne fuel pods, and new heavy-weight landing gear–that greatly extend Reaper’s already impressive endurance and range while further increasing its operational flexibility,” says Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI.

GA-ASI officials performed an Endurance Enhancement Study, which was funded by Internal Research and Development (IRAD) dollars. The study proposes two field installable kits for extending endurance without greatly raising depot aircraft modification costs.

The first option is geared for improving Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, by adding two fuel pods to its 66 ft wings and heavy-weight landing gear, thus increasing endurance from 27 hours to 37 hours.

The second is focused on multi-purpose missions, by replacing Predator’s 66 ft wings with 88 ft wings, and adding two more fuel pods and heavy-weight landing gear, to increase endurance from 27 hours to 42 hours for ISR missions only.

GA-ASI officials added a new trailing arm design earlier this year for the existing main landing gear on Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper. The “heavy-weight” landing gear increases the aircraft’s landing weight by as much as 30 percent and its gross takeoff weight by about 12 percent, from 10,500 lb to 11,700 lb. The new landing gear is available for field retrofits to all existing Predator B customers -- subject to export restrictions.

The Predator B UAV is operational with the U.S. Air Force and Royal air force as the MQ-9 Reaper and the Italian air force as MQ-9, with NASA as Ikhana, and with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as Predator B/Guardian.


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