US presented a successor to its popular MQ-9 Reaper reconnaissance UAVs
WASHINGTON, (BM) – The General Atomics concern has presented the project of the successor to its popular MQ-9 Reaper reconnaissance UAVs, which was created in response to the requirements of the US Air Force, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24.
Seeing the little usefulness of the Reaper outside of asymmetric conflicts, the American aviation wants to find a successor within a decade. The US company responded with a completely new jet wing design, which is to stay in the air “much longer than the current UAV”.
The MQ-9A Reaper drones have been in service with the US aviation and the armed forces of many other countries for two decades, but they have evolved from the MQ-1 Predator machines and repeat their layout: a classic airframe with a push propeller and a turboshaft engine.
Such machines have proven themselves in actions against various types of fighters and paramilitary groups, however, they are not very suitable for fighting an enemy with modern air defense systems.
Therefore, evolution goes in two directions. On the one hand, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle appeared, which works with the AH-64E Aapache helicopters, on the other hand, hard-to-detect drones for long-term flights at high altitude are sought.
The US Air Force decided to look for a modern reconnaissance and impact machine by writing an offer inquiry for the successor of the MQ-9A Reaper. The General Atomics proposal is to be a machine that can stay in the air for much longer than the 27 hours that the Reaper achieves, or even 72 hours, during which the Gray Eagle Extended Range can remain at the average altitude. At the same time, the machine is to be difficult to detect and have great autonomy, carrying out most of the tasks independently.
“Our emphasis on automation and autonomy capabilities comes from the understanding that the increased speed and intensity of future hostilities requires an equally flexible and intelligent set of systems – not only to enable minimized operations, but also to reduce the burden on the tactical data exchange network in disputed communication environments. Our next-generation drone will transform the battlefield of the future” said David Alexander, President of General Atomics.
The presented visualization shows another unmanned aerial vehicle in a flying wing system, with a jet engine inlet hidden on the upper surface and slotted engine outlets to lower the thermal signature. The armament will be hidden inside the fuselage, and the high aerodynamic excellence is to ensure spectacular flight durability.
Time will show how much the company will manage to achieve the announced results, based on the airframe design as well as on software and algorithms increasing its autonomy and giving the ability to solve problems without human involvement. For the US Air Force, which has been struggling with an insufficient number of unmanned aerial vehicles for years, this may even be a more important issue.
India begins joint development of UAVs with the US Air Force
The US Air Force Research Laboratories have signed an agreement with an Indian startup to jointly research and develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Deputy Defense Secretary Ellen M. Lord said July 21.
She made this statement at the Ideas for India Summit hosted by the US-India Business Council.
“I would like to emphasize a very interesting project that we are currently negotiating – the joint development of a UAV launched from the air with the research laboratories of the US Air Force, Indian Air Force, Defense Research and Development Organization of India and an Indian startup company,” Lord said.
Also, as we reported on July 5, the Indian armed forces intend to acquire the American-made Predator-B (MQ-9 Reaper) reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
India informed the American side of its interest. The publication notes the relevance of the purchase against the background of the confrontation with China, which is armed with the Wing Loong II strike drone.
The United States has offered India to acquire for $ 4 billion 30 Sea Guardian UAVs, which are unarmed counterparts of the Predator-B intended for the Navy. However, Indian military experts believe: if you buy such an expensive weapon, then in a full-fledged strike version.
According to the publication, the United States may be afraid to supply Predator-B drones, due to a possible leak of technology to Russia, another key supplier of weapons to India.
Indian-made MALE Rustom drones are under development and will not carry strike weapons. However, a number of tests were unsuccessful. The Defense Research and Development Organization of India (DRDO) plans to release a prototype MALE Rustom drone by the end of 2020.
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