Predator B Completes Long-Range Test Flight

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has completed the first phase of flight-testing for the Predator B extended-range variant following a two-day flight, company officials announced Thursday during the Farnborough International Airshow. The flight was a significant milestone for the Predator B ER, known in the Air Force as the MQ-9 Reaper, said Frank Pace, president of GA’s aeronautical systems division, The aircraft flew a “real world representative mission with significant loiter time” between July 17-18, said Pace. During the flight, the Predator B ER showed its ability to carry extra fuel tanks on each wing, and used a new fuel management system that ensures balance across the airframe from the tanks, wing, and fuselage. The aircraft also demonstrated an Alcohol Water Injection system, which helps shorten the required runway takeoff length, particularly when the aircraft is carrying a heavier load, and improves climb performance. Additional testing will be conducted next year to validate other mission profiles and configurations on the ER model. The company is under contract with USAF to build 38 MQ-9 Reapers under the ER option, which optimizes the aircraft for long range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.