General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced on February 25 the successful first flight of Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range (ER) Long Wing, retrofitted with improved long-endurance wings with greater internal fuel capacity and additional hard points for carrying external stores. The flight occurred on February 18 at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Test Facility in Palmdale, California, on a test aircraft.
«Predator B ER’s new 79-foot/24-meter wing span not only boosts the RPA’s endurance and range, but also serves as proof-of-concept for the next-generation Predator B aircraft that will be designed for Type-Certification and airspace integration», said Linden Blue, CEO. «The wing was designed to conform to STANAG 4671 (NATO Airworthiness Standard for RPA systems), and includes lightning and bird strike protection, non-destructive testing, and advanced composite and adhesive materials for extreme environments».
During the flight, Predator B ER Long Wing demonstrated its ability to launch, climb to 7,500 feet/2,286 m (initial flight test altitude), complete basic airworthiness maneuvers, and land without incident. A subsequent test program will be conducted to verify full operational capability.
Developed on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds, the new wing span is 13-feet/4 meter longer, increasing the aircraft’s endurance from 27 hours to over 40 hours. Additional improvements include short-field takeoff and landing performance and spoilers on the wings which enable precision automatic landings. The wings also have provisions for leading-edge de-ice and integrated low- and high-band RF antennas. An earlier version of Predator B ER featuring two wing-mounted fuel tanks is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper ER.
The long wings are the first components to be produced as part of GA-ASI’s Certifiable Predator B (CPB) development project, which will lead to a certifiable production aircraft in early 2018. Further hardware and software upgrades planned for CPB will include improved structural fatigue and damage tolerance, more robust flight control software, and enhancements allowing operations in adverse weather.
- Triple-redundant flight control system
- Redundant flight control surfaces
- Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
- MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
- C-Band line-of-sight data link control
- Ku-Band beyond line-of-sight/SATCOM data link control
- Over 90% system operational availability
- C-130 transportable (or self-deploys)
|Wing Span||79 feet/24 m|
|Length||36 feet/11 m|
|Powerplant||Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine|
|Maximum Gross Take-off Weight (MGTOW)||10,500 lbs/4,763 kg|
|Fuel Capacity||3,900 lbs/1,769 kg|
|Payload Capacity||850 lbs int./386 kg|
|3,000 lbs ext./1,361 kg|
|Payloads||Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS-B) Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR)|
|Lynx Multi-mode Radar|
|Multi-mode maritime radar|
|Automated Identification System (AIS)|
|SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT)/Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system|
|Power||11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block 5) (redundant)|
|Maximum Altitude||50,000 feet/15,240 m|
|Maximum Endurance||40+ hr|
|Max Air Speed||200 KTAS/230 mph/370 km/h|