Test Program Validates Long-Endurance Capability
ILA BERLIN AIR SHOW – 1 June 2016 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, today announced the longest endurance flight of the Predator® B/MQ-9 Reaper® Big Wing aircraft, a next-generation derivative of the combat-proven Predator B RPA.
"This long-endurance flight demonstrates Predator B Big Wing's game-changing potential for providing life-saving persistent ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] in support of U.S. and coalition warfighters," said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. "Our company continually strives to extend Predator B's already impressive endurance further, pushing the aircraft's capabilities to its full potential."
The recent endurance flight is a continuation of a test program that began on February 18th at GA-ASI's Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. The most recent flight proved Predator B Big Wing's ability to boost flight time by over ten hours while replicating an operational mission in altitude and maneuver profile.
During the flight, Predator B Big Wing demonstrated its ability to launch, climb to an operational altitude, loiter and conduct reconnaissance maneuvers, and land after 37.5 hours without incident. A follow-on test program will be conducted to expand its flight envelope further and push its endurance profile to the limit.
Developed on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds, Predator B Big Wing's wing span is 13 feet longer than Predator B and incorporates greater internal fuel capacity, increasing the aircraft's endurance from 27 hours to 42 hours. Its bigger wings are the first components to be produced as part of GA-ASI's Certifiable Predator B (CPB) development project, which will lead to a certifiable production aircraft in early 2018. Further hardware and software upgrades planned for CPB include improved structural fatigue and damage tolerance, more robust flight control software, and enhancements allowing operations in adverse weather.
Predator B Big Wing also offers short-field takeoff and landing performance, as well as active lift spoilers on the wings which enable precision automatic landings. Its wings have additional hard points for carrying external stores and provisions for a leading-edge de-icing system and integrated low- and high-band Radio Frequency (RF) antennas.
An earlier version of Predator B Big Wing featured two wing-mounted fuel tanks and is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper ER.
High-resolution photos of Predator B Big Wing are available to qualified media outlets from the GA-ASI media contact listed below.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, delivers situational awareness by providing remotely piloted aircraft systems, radar, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company's Aircraft Systems business unit is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable RPA systems, including Predator A, Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, Gray Eagle, the new Predator C Avenger®, and Predator XP. It also manufactures a variety of state-of-the-art digital Ground Control Stations (GCS), including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for RPA field operations. The Mission Systems business unit designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar and sophisticated Claw® sensor control and image analysis software into both manned and remotely piloted aircraft. It also focuses on providing integrated sensor payloads and software for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft platforms and develops high energy lasers, electro-optic sensors, and meta-material antennas. For more information, please visit www.ga-asi.com.
Predator, Reaper, Avenger, Lynx, and Claw are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
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Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.