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Reaper ER-The Most Lethal UAV in the World

Written by on Thursday, April 4th, 2013

What’s better than having an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) armed with two Hellfire missiles and a loiter time of 23 hours? How about the same UAV that can stay airborne for 35 hours? Yes, General Atomics has done it again. The Reaper Extended Range (ER) adds a new wing to the already capable aircraft that allows it to carry two fuel tanks that will extend its already amazing loiter time by over ten hours.

The U.S. Air Force hasn’t officially announced that it will purchase the Reaper ER but sources close to the negotiations are implying that once a budget is signed, it is expected that the Reaper ER will be purchased. The purchase could reduce the number of Reapers currently in theater by having the Reaper ER provide longer coverage during missions with its increased fuel. “Extended range would give you certain capabilities to perform certain missions which would be very advantageous, and it would allow the Air Force to look for certain efficiencies,” said Col. Bill Tart, director of the Air Force’s cialis online buy Remotely Piloted Aircraft Capabilities Division.

The new wings would be designed to carry two external fuel tanks and winglets to increase fuel efficiency. The wings would be the same size as existing wings on the Reaper and are designed to swap out with the older wings. The cost is expected to be approximately $500,000 to $1 million to modify the current wings with the ER wings. Also, it’s expected that half of the 400 Reapers currently on contract to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force could easily be modified with the new wings.

It’s interesting to note that as the rest of the world struggles with development of generic UAV capability with Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission support the U.S. is not only fielding attack UAVs but is looking to enhance existing designs. The Reaper ER will undoubtedly bring increased combat capability to the fight of today but it’s the advancements and innovation that will serve the U.S. well in the conflicts of tomorrow.

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