AFA AIR & SPACE, WASHINGTON --- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, today announced that its Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range (Reaper ER) RPA fleet has achieved a historic milestone with the first operational fielding of Reaper ER by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) last month.
“Reaper ER provides a tremendous capability increase in both range and endurance, and achieving this major program milestone wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and commitment of our employees,” said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “We are pleased that the Reaper ER program has met the expectations of our Air Force customer and satisfied the enormous challenge of their Quick Reaction Capability [QRC] schedule requirement.”
A Reaper can be transformed into a Reaper ER through the integration of a field-retrofittable modification package consisting of two wing-mounted fuel tanks which significantly extend the aircraft’s maximum endurance. Reaper’s original external payload carriage configuration remains unchanged, providing the aircraft with a “mix and match” capability that allows it to carry both fuel tanks and an assortment of external payloads. To increase thrust and improve takeoff performance at higher gross weights, an alcohol/water injection system and a four-bladed propeller were incorporated, along with a heavyweight trailing arm landing gear system that enables safe ground operations at the heavier gross weight.
The Reaper ER program was a QRC requirement in support of USAF which challenged GA-ASI to deliver 38 Reaper ER aircraft in 13 months, and to be operational 18 months following contract award. The ER modification package was designed to be field-retrofittable so that fuel tanks and associated equipment could be installed quickly and conveniently on current Reapers at worldwide locations.