WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 21 Oct. 2013. U.S. Air Force officials are buying 24 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in Poway, Calif., under terms of a $377.4 million contract announced Friday.
Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, are awarding the contract, which includes 24 Reaper UAVs, shipping containers, spare parts, and support equipment. Although announced on Friday, the contract was awarded on 15 Oct. during the government shutdown.
The MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer UAV, which at one time was known as the Predator B, is a remote-control or autonomous UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. It is larger, heavier, and more capable than the earlier MQ-1 Predator, although it can be controlled by Predator same ground-control stations.
The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower turboprop engine, and can carry 15 times more ordnance payload than the Predator, and can cruise at almost three times the Predator’s speed.
The Reaper UAV has seven hardpoints for weapons, and can carry two 1,500-pound weapons on its inboard weapon stations; two 750-pound weapons on its middle stations, and two 150-pound weapons on its outboard stations.
The Reaper can carry as many as 14 AGM-114 Hellfire air to ground missiles can be carried or four Hellfire missiles and two 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The UAV also can carry the 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).
The Reaper Block 5 UAV has increased electrical power, secure communications, auto land, increased gross takeoff weight, weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration. It has a high-capacity starter generator to accommodate growth.
The Block 5 Reaper also can accommodate dual ARC-210 VHF/UHF radios with wingtip antennas; secure data links; and an increased data transmission capacity.