Air Force Buys External Fuel Tanks for Reaper

The Air Force awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a contract to supply external fuel tanks for the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. These tanks are part of the Reaper extended-range configuration that the company is offering. The undefinitized contract action has a total potential value of $26.2 million, according to the description in the Pentagon’s list of major contracts on Aug. 12. Company spokeswoman Kimberly Kasitz confirmed to the Daily Report that the contract deals with the fuel tanks. Work under the new contract is scheduled for completion by August 2015, according to the description. In April 2012, the company announced the extended-range configuration, which in addition to the fuel tanks, features the second option of replacing the Reaper’s current 66-foot-long wings with 88-foot-long wings. The fuel tanks enable the MQ-9 to fly nearly 10 hours longer, increasing endurance from 27 hours to about 37 hours. The new wings would extend the airplane’s endurance even more, according to the company. (See also Taking Reaper Farther.)