US Air Force looks beyond the Reaper

The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9 Reaper will rule the US Air Force fleet of medium-altitude unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) through the middle of the next decade. The USAF’s newly-released UAS flight flight plan shows the Reaper’s capability will steadily expand with the arrival of new payloads, such as the Gorgon Stare sensor in 2010. The USAF also revealed plans to test the Reaper next year as a replacement for the US Navy EA-6B, which is retired in FY12. 

The Reaper will be augmented during the next decade with the MQ-X, which is pictured in the flight plan as a stealthy, jet-powered aircraft. It retains the surveillance and close air support mission of the MQ-9, and adds an electronic warfare mission. In many ways, this recalls the objectives of the joint unmanned combat air systems (J-UCAS), which was cancelled after 2005.

The MQ-X also opens the door to a very ambitious future. By the middle of this century, the USAF anticipates follow-on versions of this type to rule the skies. These aircraft will function as combination dogfighters, intelligence collectors, strikers and even tankers.

The USAF flight plan is available for download at this link.


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3 Responses to US Air Force looks beyond the Reaper

  1. Ivan Charvat 17 July, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    One cannot actually download them or enlarge them for reading, i.e. they provide zero net improvement over what’s already on your page.
    In a word: it’s a WASTE of time…

  2. Stephen Trimble 17 July, 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    I’m really sorry that it bothers you. At the same time, I think you should reconsider. You can enlarge documents to full screen view on Scribd. It also happens to be the only place on the web that I am aware of where the document is available.

  3. Royce 17 July, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    The 10,000 lb Reaper could take the place of the 61,000 lb EA-6B? That sounds . . . ambitious.

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