The United States reported on Tuesday that an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” maneuver by two Russian fighters forced them to shoot down an American drone that was operating over the Black Sea. It is an unmanned aircraft of the North American MQ-9 Reaper, which has a range of 1,850 kilometers and the ability to fly at altitudes of 15,000 meters.
Produced by General Atomics, the Reaper has been in service since 2007. It is an improved version of the Predator, with a 27-hour flight range, medium-altitude, long-endurance, remote-guided, and designed for offensive strikes. With its considerable standby time, long-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons, it is one of the US’s most prized weapons for strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value targets. It is the first attack UAV designed to perform high-altitude, long-duration surveillance.
The MQ-9 is a larger and more capable aircraft than its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator. The MQ-9 It has a 950 shp turboprop engine, which is more powerful compared to the 119 hp piston engine of the Predator. The power increase allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more cargo and have a cruise speed three times that of the MQ-1.
The MQ-9 Reaper You can also carry out surveillance tasks, assist in search and rescue missions and allowing US forces to “conduct irregular warfare operations,” according to the Air Force. The Reaper went into operation in 2007 and is 20 meters in size and has a cruising speed of approximately 370km/h.
The aircraft is larger and more robust than its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator, and is capable of annihilating targets with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and other ammunition.
The typical MQ-9 system consists of multiple aircraft, ground control stations, satellites, and flight and maintenance crews.7 The aircraft has a top speed of about 300 mph (480 km/h) and a cruise speed of 170 mph (278 km/h).
To satisfy combat requirements, the MQ-9 develops its capabilities using mission kits of various combinations of weapon loads and sensors. The Raytheon AN/AAS-52 suite features a multispectral targeting sensor that includes a TV with color/monochrome light, infrared, and intensified with a laser target designator/rangefinder for laser targeting for guided munitions .
The operators, stationed at bases such as the Creech Air Force base near Las Vegas, can search for targets and survey the terrain using an array of sensors, including a thermal camera. The integrated camera is estimated to be capable of reading a license plate at 3,200 m, reaching the operator in 1.2 s via a satellite link.
The MQ-9 is equipped with six pylons or hardpoints. The interior restraints can carry a maximum of 680 kg each and allow the transport of external fuel tanks. The middle tethers can carry a maximum of 270kg each, while the smaller outer tethers can carry a maximum of 90kg each. An MQ-9 with two 450 kg external fuel tanks and 2,250 kg of weapons, it has a range of 42 hours and 14 hours fully loaded.8 The MQ-9 has a wide variety of weapons, including laser-guided bombs GBU-12 Paveway, AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and most recently GBU-38/JDAM bombs. Testing is underway to allow for the inclusion of AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles.