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Upgraded Predator B UAV completes development and testing


September 6, 2012

The Block 1 Predator B (pictured) has received an upgrade with a successful first test flight carried out in May (Photo: GA-ASI)

The Block 1 Predator B (pictured) has received an upgrade with a successful first test flight carried out in May (Photo: GA-ASI)

Having racked up more than 420,000 flight hours, the venerable Block 1 Predator B (aka the MQ-9 Reaper) UAV that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has been producing since 2003 has received an upgrade. The revamped Predator B gets a bump in electrical power, more secure communications, auto land capabilities, streamlined payload integration capabilities and an increase in Gross Takeoff Weight (GTOW) to handle heavier payloads or additional fuel.

The Predator B’s increased electrical power capacity comes courtesy of a new high-capacity starter generator, with the upgraded electrical system also including a backup generator that can power all the UAV’s flight critical systems, and three independent power sources to improve the aircraft’s reliability. The aircraft will also be able to carry heavier payloads or additional fuel thanks to its new trailing arm main landing gear.

Communications upgrades for the remotely piloted aircraft include dual ARC-210 VHF/UHF radios with wingtip antennas that allows for simultaneous communications between multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground parties, secure data links, and an increase in data transmission capacity.

The successful first flight test of the MQ-9 Block 1-plus took place on May 24 at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, California. With the completion of development and testing, General Atomics expects a Milestone C decision, which gives approval for the aircraft to enter into the Production and Deployment (P&D;) phase, in the coming months. Follow-on aircraft to the MQ-9 Block 1-plus configuration will be designated “MG-9 Block 5.”

Source: General Atomics

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick
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