Air Force asks General Atomics to upgrade MQ-9 Reaper UAVs with data multiplexers and control

General Atomics will upgrade U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper surveillance and attack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by extending range, payload data multiplexing, and beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) control.

1802maeuv Reaper

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio - General Atomics will upgrade U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper surveillance and attack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by extending range, payload data multiplexing, and beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) control. Officials of the Medium Altitude Unmanned Aerial Systems Division of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced a $14.2 million order to the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems segment in Poway, Calif., for MQ-9 Block 5 upgrade kits.

General Atomics is upgrading Reaper UAVs with more range, payload data multiplexing, and beyond-line-of-sight control.

The kits will upgrade earlier versions of the Reaper UAV to the most modern Reaper Block 5 configuration. Upgrades consist of extended-range kits, beyond-line-of-sight kits, and Barrett asymmetrical digital datalink computer (BADDC) routers. These upgrades will enable the upgraded Reaper Block 5 UAV to carry external fuel pods to extend mission range; add a Ku-band BLOS and satellite communications data link control; and BADDC data routers, which act as payload data multiplexers to increase the amount of data the Reaper Block 5 can send over tactical networks.

Compared to Block 1 models, the Reaper Block 5 has increased electrical power, secure communications, auto land, increased gross takeoff weight, weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration capabilities. The Block 5 model has a high-capacity starter generator and upgraded electrical system with a backup generator that can support all flight-critical functions.

The drone has three independent power sources to accommodate new communications such as dual ARC-210 VHF/UHF radios with wingtip antennas for simultaneous communications among multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground parties; secure data links; and an increased data transmission capacity. The Reaper Block 5 can carry heavier payloads or additional fuel. The Reaper has a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple-redundant avionics system, and is powered by the Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine.

This aircraft has been acquired by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, United Kingdom Royal Air Force, and Italian Air Force. On this order General Atomics will do the work in Poway, Calif., and should be finished by February 2021.

For more information visit General Atomics Aeronautical Systems online at www.ga-asi.com.

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