The MQ-9 Reaper is a medium-to-high altitude, long endurance
remotely piloted aircraft system. The MQ-9's primary mission
is as a persistent hunter-killer against emerging targets to
achieve joint force commander objectives. The MQ-9's alternate
mission is to act as an intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance asset, employing sensors to provide real-time
data to commanders and intelligence specialists at all levels.
The typical system consists of several air vehicles, a ground
control station, communication equipment/links, spares and
personnel who can be a mix of active duty and contractor
personnel. The crew for the MQ-9 is a pilot and a sensor
operator, who operate the aircraft from a remotely located
GCS. To meet combatant commanders' requirements, the MQ-9
delivers tailored capabilities using mission kits that may
contain various weapons and sensor payload combinations.
The MQ-9 baseline system has a robust sensor suite for
targeting. Imagery is provided by an infrared sensor, a
color/monochrome daylight TV and an image-intensified TV. The
video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as
separate video streams or fused with the IR sensor video. The
laser rangefinder/designator provides the capability to
precisely designate targets for laser-guided munitions.
Synthetic aperture radar will enable Joint Direct Attack
Munitions targeting. The aircraft is also equipped with a
color nose camera, generally used by the pilot for flight
Each MQ-9 aircraft can be disassembled into main components
and loaded into a container for air deployment worldwide in
Air Force airlift assets such as the C-130. The MQ-9 air
vehicle operates from standard U.S. airfields.
The U.S. Air Force proposed the MQ-9 system in response to the
Department of Defense request for Global War on Terrorism
initiatives. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1
Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets
with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those
targets. The "M" is the Department of Defense designation for
multi-role and "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "9"
refers to the series of purpose-built remotely piloted
In July 2004, the Air Combat Command Commander approved the
MQ-9 Enabling Concept Document. The MQ-9 is operated by the
42nd Attack Squadron and based at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.
Primary Function: Unmanned hunter/killer weapon system
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
Power Plant: Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine
Thrust: 900 shaft horsepower maximum
Wingspan: 66 feet (20.1 meters)
Length: 36 feet (11 meters)
Height: 12.5 feet (3.8 meters)
Weight: 4,900 pounds (2,223 kilograms) empty
Maximum takeoff weight: 10,500 pounds (4,760 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 4,000 pounds (602 gallons)
Payload: 3,750 pounds (1,701 kilograms)
Speed: cruise speed around 230 miles per hour, (200
Range: 3,682 miles (3,200 nautical miles)
Ceiling: up to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters)
Armament: Combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles,
GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
Crew (remote): Two (pilot and sensor operator)
Unit Cost: $53.5 million (includes four aircraft with
sensors) (fiscal 2006 dollars)
Initial operating capability: expected in fiscal 2008
Inventory: Active force, 10; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0
Source: US Air Force