First Reaper Tests with GPS-guided Munition

A test team made up of Air Force, Navy, and industry officials conducted the first live drops of a GPS-guided weapon from the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle May 13 at the Navy test range at China Lake, Calif. On that day, the team carried out six successful releases of the GBU-49 munition from the Reaper, with GPS guiding direct hits on targets. The GBU-49 is a 500-pound bomb that features both laser guidance and an on-board GPS kit for all-weather, precision-delivery capability. The Air Force has been flying MQ-9s in combat in Afghanistan since September 2007, employing 500-pound laser-guided bombs in combat as well as Hellfire surface-attack missiles (see below). (Includes Wright-Patterson report by Laura McGowan)