Raise the bar for new Reaper, colonel says

Director of Air Force's Remotely Piloted Aircraft Task Force points out MQ-9 flaws

Col. James Gear, director of the Air Force's Remotely Piloted Aircraft Task Force, is raising the bar for the next-in-class Reaper drone while calling out the flaws of today’s MQ-9.

The current Reaper drones have served the country well over Iraq and Afghanistan, but the next-generation replacement for the MQ-9 must be able to tackle emerging threats, writes Dave Majumdar of Defense News.


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These threats include cyber warfare, enemy aircraft and surface-to-air missiles, the publication reports.

Gear made the comments on Feb. 2 during the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Unmanned Systems Program Review 2011 held in Washington, D.C .

“In tomorrow’s conflict, or going even further to the right to an anti-access environment, the MQ-9 [Reaper] and MQ-1 [Predator] are not well suited for that,” Gear told Defense News. “So there is certainly a requirement and need for an aircraft [that] operates in these three different threats,” he added.

Gear suggested that the new model must be resilient to icy weather conditions.

Secure, encrypted, jam-proof data links are necessities in the new model, as well as a modular, easily upgradable aircraft, he said.

The design should be flexible enough to accommodate new upgrade “requirements [that are not] fully defined or funded” at the present moment, the colonel said.

The Reaper is a medium-to-high altitude, long endurance, hunter-kill system and is capable of carrying a combination of Hellfire missiles, laser-guided bombs and smart bombs, according to Defense Systems.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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