The MQ-9B is a medium-to high-altitude, long-endurance hunter-killer RPA, primarily tasked with eliminating time-critical and high-value targets in permissive environments.
Additional roles include CAS, CSAR, precision strike, armed overwatch, target development/designation, and terminal weapon guidance. The MQ-9 fulfills a secondary tactical ISR role utilizing its Multispectral Targeting System-B (MTS-B), Lynx SAR, and/or Gorgon Stare wide-area surveillance.
MTS-B integrates EO/ IR, color/ monochrome daylight TV, image-intensified TV, and a laser designator/ illuminator. MTS-B provides FMV as separate video streams or fused together. The MQ-9 employs SAR for JDAM targeting and dismounted target tracking.
MQ-9B debuted in combat in Afghanistan in 2007. A Reaper system comprises three aircraft, GCS, LOS/BLOS satellite and terrestrial data links, support equipment/personnel, and crews for deployed 24-hour operations.
MQ-9 is retrofitted under a flexible acquisition structure, which can rapidly change to meet demand. USAF plans to upgrade the entire fleet (including 144 Block 1, and 136 Block 5 aircraft) to Extended-Range standards.
Reaper ER adds external fuel tanks, a four-bladed propeller, engine alcohol/water injection, heavyweight landing gear, longer wings and tail surfaces, and other enhancements.
FY21 funds GCS Block 30, ER conversions, data link, GPS, and Gorgon Stare improvements, reliability and maintainability mods, capability upgrades and production line shut down.
FY22 will launch DAS-4 high-definition EO/IR sensor retrofits to improve targeting accuracy. USAF is ending MQ-9 procurement and seeks to replace Reaper with a more survivable, flexible, and advanced platform as early as 2031.
Contractors: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems; L3Harris; Raytheon (sensors).
First Flight: February 2001.
Delivered: November 2003-present.
IOC: October 2007; 2015 (ER).
Production: 337 (planned).
Operator: ACC, AFMC, AFRC (associate), AFSOC, ANG.
Aircraft Location: Cannon AFB, N.M.; Creech AFB, Nev.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Ellington Field, Texas; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; Hancock Field, N.Y.; Hector Arpt., N.D.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; March ARB, Calif.; Nellis AFB, Nev., and deployed locations worldwide. Planned: Tyndall AFB, Fla.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.
GCS Location: Cannon AFB, N.M.; Creech AFB, Nev.; Battle Creek ANGB, Mich.; Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; Des Moines Arpt., Iowa; Ellington Field, Texas; Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; Fort Smith Arpt., Ark.; Hancock Field, N.Y.; Hector Arpt., N.D.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; Horsham AGS, Pa.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; March ARB, Calif.; Springfield-Beckley Arpt., Ohio. Planned: Niagara Falls Arpt., N.Y.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; Tyndall AFB, Fla.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.
Active Variants: •MQ-9B Reaper Block 1. Air Force version of the General Atomics Predator B. •MQ-9B Reaper Block 5. Improved, current production Reaper. •MQ-9B Reaper ER. Extended-range MQ-9 with external fuel tanks, longer wings, and other enhancements.
Dimensions: Span 66 ft (79 ft, ER), length 36 ft, height 12.5 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 10,500 lb.
Power Plant: One Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop, max 900 shp.
Performance: Cruise speed 230 mph, range 1,150 miles, endurance 27 hr; 34 hr (ER).
Ceiling: 50,000 ft.
Armament: Combination of AGM-114 Hellfire (up to eight), GBU-12/49 Paveway II, and GBU-38 JDAMs.
Accommodation : Pilot, sensor operator (operating from GCS).