SOUTHWEST ASIA, Jan. 9, 2019 —
Recently a pair of MQ-9 Block 1 Reapers with the extended-range package were delivered to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
With a unique mission capability of being a Remotely Piloted Aircraft performing persistent attack and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets, the added benefit of more flight time can only improve mission success.
Keeping the RPA in the air longer required additional fuel tanks to be fitted, but to ensure the Reaper was capable of handling added weight, other modifications needed to be made.
“The MQ-9 Block 1 ER has a different engine with an alcohol water injection system and a four-blade prop to increase thrust for shorter runways and heavier airframe weight due to the increased fuel capacity,” explained Lt. Col. Kenneth, 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.
This was the start of the transition to an updated fleet providing a 33 percent increase in flight time. The transition will continue through March of 2019 and will consist of multiple aircraft.
Reapers being replaced will be sent back to their respective units to be retrofitted with the upgrades, Lt Col Kenneth explained.
Although these changes are minor, the impact is significant.
“The increased fuel capacity of the MQ-9 Block 1 ER will allow them increased time over target to complete the planned mission,” said Staff Sgt. Marquise, 386th EAMXS crew chief.