The US Air Force plans to retire the MQ-1Predator Attack drone in early 2018 and shift to the more modern MQ-9 due to its increased speed, high-definition sensors and the ability to carry more munitions.
These combat attributes allow the MQ-9 to complete a wider array of mission sets which can help the Air Force stay prepared in the fight.
While the MQ-1 and the crews who flew them proved their weapons proficiency, it was never originally designed to carry weapons, resulting in a limited 200-pound payload. The demand for more attack capabilities exceeded the MQ-1s design, a USAF release said.
The fresh MQ-9 design picked up where the MQ-1 left off, boasting a nearly 4,000-pound payload with the ability to carry both missiles and bombs.
These upgraded capabilities directly impact combat readiness and transitioning to just the MQ-9 will also help the aircrews stay primed and ready to go.
The MQ-1 began as the RQ-1 Predator, an unarmed RPA flown by line-of-sight. Some changes include the adding of the Multi-Spectral Targeting system, the addition of weapons and remote-split operations capability.
"The MQ-1 is a great example where the Air Force took a technology demonstrator and turned it into a major weapons system having daily effects on the battlefield," James said.
"We have found how to fly an imperfect weapons system very well, and I think we have maximized the effectiveness that we can get out of the MQ-1.
I have no doubt that we will continue to find ways to be more effective in combat with the MQ-9", the statement quoted a USAF officer as saying.
General Atomics wins $349 million worth US Air Force contract for MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial systems support and services. “General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc
CAE USA today won a $19 million firm-fixed-price contract for MQ-1/9 contract aircrew training and courseware development training program. The work is expected to be completed by September 30, 2018
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Poway, Calif
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., San Diego, Calif
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