First production multi-domain Reaper UAV takes to the skies
In November 2022, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) flew the first production MQ-9A Multi-Domain Operations (M2DO) variant of the USAF MQ-9A Reaper.
The upgraded version of the MQ-9A Block 5 UAV includes features for enabling integration and deployment of open mission systems and sensors that are set to expand the strategic reconnaissance capabilities of the Reaper.
Known as the MQ-9A Block 5 '-25', the aircraft offers improved power distribution and redundancy, GPS enhancements, radar altimeters, nosewheel steering and an upgraded angle of attack sensor system.
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Shephard Defence Insight notes the Reaper can reach a maximum airspeed of 240kt at sea level and climb to a maximum altitude of 50,000ft. When carrying its full complement of 1,769kg of fuel, it can fly for up to 27 hours.
GA-ASI USAF Programmes VP Claudia Mowery said the company was excited to position the MQ-9A toward new missions through the additional capabilities.
Mowery added that future funding could see the M2DO-ready functionality expanded to the entire MQ-9A Reaper fleet.
The USAF and USMC will receive the improved MQ-9A Block 5 '-25' M2DO aircraft under current contracts; however, how many aircraft the services will receive with the improvements has not been disclosed.
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