The Air Force MQ-9 hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle, called by its maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a Predator B, has officially been dubbed “Reaper.” Gen. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff, chose the name, which came from airmen in the field, because “it captures the lethal nature of the new weapon system,” according to an Air Force press release. The MQ-9 is the big brother of the MQ-1 Predator. It can carry 15 times the ordnance of the Predator, fly three times as fast and can stay airborne for 14 hours fully loaded. Currently, the Air Force has seven MQ-9s and doesn’t expect to make a full rate production decision until 2009. GAAS said earlier this year the company could ramp up production at any time.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.