MQ-9 Reaper

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MQ-9 Reaper Specifications

Primary Function:
US$ Cost
Flight Cost
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Hard Points:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Climb Rate:
First Flight:
Year Deployed:
US$17 million
US$4,762 per hour
Honeywell turboprop
900 h.p.
4,900 lbs.
10,500 lbs.
36 ft. 1 in.
65 ft. 7 in.
195 mph
300 mph
n/a fpm
50,000 feet
40 hours

MQ-9 Reaper

MQ-9 Reaper

The MQ 9 Reaper (previously MQ-1 Predator now Predator B) is essentially a giant radio control pusher prop airplane. It is built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.  MQ stands for multi role/unmanned and RQ stands for reconnaissance/ unmanned.

The concept for the MQ-9 Reaper originated in 1980. Refinements of drone aircraft technology and quieter engine engineering resulted in the aircraft taking to the sky on December 15, 1993.

Unlike most radio control airplanes, a typical unit consisting of four MQ-9 Reaper aircraft needs a large support system in order to perform its missions. This includes navigation plus up links through satellites, and control from a ground center. In all a total of fifty five personnel are assigned to a unit.

MQ-9 Reaper and Predator aircraft have been used for attack as well as reconnaissance since they were first deployed in 1995.

The turboprop engine of the MQ-9 Reaper uses digital electronic engine controls  for quicker throttle response and improved fuel efficiency.

The MQ-9 Reaper can self deploy, fly autonomously and auto land, or be remotely piloted.  It can also be launched from a C-130 aircraft.  Ku-band and satellite data links are used when flying out of line of sight.  In sight data link control uses C-band.

Avionics and electrical systems of the RQ-9 Reaper are all triple redundant. Two ARC-210 VHF/UHF radios provide secure data links for simultaneous air to ground or air to air communications.

Not only is the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft equipped with cameras and ground tracking radar, it can handle payloads up to 3,850 lbs.  Depending upon its mission It can carry laser designators, infrared and electro optical sensors, multi-mode ground or maritime radar, plus electronic support measure systems.  Weapons can include up to four Hellfire missiles, two 500 lb. JDAMs or laser guided bombs.

Beginning in 2007 U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper aircraft conducted combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. They began being used in 2009 for anti-piracy missions around the Seychelles Islands. MQ-9 Reaper aircraft flew surveillance missions over Somalia in 2011. In 2012 they were deployed over Libya.

MQ-9 Reaper aircraft have been used for homeland security conducting Canadian and Mexican border patrols and coast guard missions.

In addition to the United States, MQ-9 Reaper aircraft are being employed by Australia, France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Dec. 26, 2019:  The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center awarded General Atomics US$327,192,501 for “program management, contractor filed service representative support, depot repair, depot maintenance, sustaining engineering support, supply and logistics support, configuration management, tech data maintenance, software maintenance and inventory control point/warehouse support for the MQ- 9 Reaper”.  Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2021.

Dec. 26, 2019:  The U. S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center awarded General Atomics US$43,650,760 for France contractor logistics support including depot repair, life cycle sustainment and software maintenance services for the French Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 and Block 1 aircraft.  Work will be performed in Poway, California, and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2020″.

Feb. 11, 2020:  The Naval Air Systems Command awarded General Atomics US$7,826,673 “for Group 5 unmanned air system intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance services. These services are in support of outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS) Task Force Southwest and U.S. Marine Corps operations utilizing contractor-owned/contractor-operated MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air systems. Work will be performed in Yuma, Arizona (35%); Poway, California (15%); and various OCONUS locations (50%), and is expected to be completed in May 2020”.

April 7, 2020:  The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center awarded General Atomics US$8,390,980 “for the United Kingdom (UK) MQ-9  Reaper contractor logistics support launch and recovery element (LRE). The UK-1 LRE aircrew, readiness spares package-out, and UK-2 logistics readiness support will be performed at multiple stateside and international locations and is expected to be completed Sept. 30, 2021”.

It is estimated that over 250 MQ-9 Reaper aircraft have been produced to date and that they have accumulated a total of over five million flight hours.

MQ-9 Reaper RC

MQ-9 Reaper RC

The Fly Zone MQ-9 Reaper RC has a wingspan of 38 3/4 in. and a length of 21 1/2 in.  Included are a 130 motor geared 4:1, three channel radio, electronic speed controller, flight battery and charger.

Starwei Aero Model has the MQ-9 Reaper RC as almost ready to fly. Its construction is from balsa and plywood with a 63 in. wingspan and a 35 1/2 in. length. It needs a Speed 400 type motor for power. Weight is about 18 oz.

The MQ-9 Reaper RC from Hobby King has a 99 in. wingspan and is 43 in. long. It has a glass fibre fuselage and includes working flaps. Your 40 mm electric motor is needed to power its pusher prop. Weight is around 6 lbs.


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