Goodbye, MQ-1. Hello, MQ-9. That’s right, the Air Force has announced it will retire the MQ-1 Predator drone in early 2018 and fly the MQ-9 Reaper exclusively in order to “keep up with the continuously evolving battlespace environment,” the service said in a statement.
The MQ-1 has been flown in combat for the past 21 years. The MQ-9, which has 10 years of service under its belt, is better equipped to help the Air Force stay in the fight due to increased speed, high-def sensors and the ability to carry more munitions.
Current areas of responsibility call upon combat RPAs (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) to be used for “more precise close air support engagements,” as opposed to years past when they were used solely for intelligence gathering and real-time reconnaissance, the Air Force said.
That’s where the MQ-9 comes in.
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According to UPI, the MQ-9 Reaper boasts a 3,750-pound payload capacity, a 50,000-foot flight ceiling and can reach cruising speeds around 230 miles per hour. That’s a significant upgrade from the MQ-1, which has a 450-pound payload capacity, a flight ceiling of 25,000 feet and can reach cruising speeds around 84 miles …Read the Rest
Source:: Tactical Life