MQ–1 Predator / MQ–9 Reaper

Product Type:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

Using Service (US):

Air Force (Predator/Reaper)
Army (Gray Eagle)

Program Status:

In Production
(Currently only purchasing the MQ-1C and MQ-9)

Prime Contractor:

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

The MQ-9 Reaper

About the Predator and Reaper:





The MQ-1B Predator, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, and MQ-9 Reaper aka Predator B are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Systems (UAV/UAS) manufactured by General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI). The aircraft can be transported onboard a Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules or larger military transport aircraft. In the following, we will also be highlighting the differences between the Predator and Reaper.

The MQ-1B Predator is used for close-air-support, air interdiction, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and is powered by a single Rotax 914F four cylinder aviation fuel piston engine engine with 115 hp. It provides armed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance and target acquisition for the U.S. Air Force. The Predator has a wingspan of 55 feet, is 27 feet long, 6.9 feet high and carries a payload of up to 450 pounds and has a maximum speed of 135 mph (217 km/h). The MQ-1B Predator is equipped with the Raytheon AN/AAS-52 Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS-A), which includes Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) video cameras and laser designators. The MQ-1B carries up to two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. In March 2011, the USAF received the last of a total of 268 Predators and focus has now shifted to sustainment. In August 2011, the Predator passed the one million flight hour mark. As of September 2013, there were 156 MQ-1Bs in the USAF inventory vs. 165 one year before.

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is powered by a single Thielert 2.0L heavy-fuel piston engine with 165 hp. It provides an unmanned long-endurance and persistent ISR and tactical strike capability. The Gray Eagle has a wingspan of 56 feet, is 28 feet long, and carries a payload of up to 1,075 pounds. The Gray Eagle is equipped with the Raytheon AN/AAS-53 Common Sensor Payload (CSP), which includes Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) video cameras and laser designators. The MQ-1C also features a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), communications relay, and carries up to four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The Army will purchase a total of 29 production units with the last delivery in FY 2015.

The MQ–9 Reaper is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine with 900 shp. The Reaper is a multi-mission ISR and strike UAV/UAS and is significantly larger than the Predator and Gray Eagle. Also, it features a more powerful engine and carries a much greater payload. The MQ-9 has a wingspan of 66 feet, is 36 feet long, 12.5 feet high, and carries a payload of up to 3,850 pounds and flies at speeds of up to 276 mph (444 km/h). The aircraft is equipped with the Raytheon AN/DAS-1 Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS-B), which has a suite of visual sensors for targeting. The MTS-B integrates an infrared sensor, a color/monochrome daylight TV camera, an image-intensified TV camera, a laser designator, and a laser illuminator. Also, the Reaper features the Lynx multi-mode radar (from General Atomics), a multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, a SIGINT/Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system, and a communications relay. The MQ-9 carries up to four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and can also carry Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). For more information about the types of ordnance carried by the MQ-9, please see Armament/Weapons section below. The Air Force plans to purchase a total of 343 MQ-9 production aircraft, the last of which will be procured in FY 2019. By March 2014, the Air Force has contracted for a total of 231 MQ-9 Reapers. As of March 2014 GA-ASI has delivered 163 aircraft, 143 of which are operationally active. As of March 2014, the MQ-9 Reaper has accumulated approximately 493,000 cumulative flight hours. As of September 2013, there were 104 MQ-9s in the USAF inventory (same as one year before).

The main difference between the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper is the size, role, and payload. The Reaper is mainly used as an attack UAV (hunter-killer) and thus carries significantly more ordnance (see armament below for more information). The Predator's primary role is ISR.



Armament/Weapons:

The MQ-1 Predator can be equipped with two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, while the MQ-1C Gray Eagle carries twice that amount. The MQ-9 Reaper carries a broader range of ordnance and can be equipped with up to 4 Hellfire missiles + two GBU-12 Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs or two 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). On the Reaper, Hellfire missiles are carried on stations 2 and 6 (middle wing stations). Stations 3 and 5 can only carry bombs, while stations 2 and 6 can carry either bombs or the M299P launcher with missiles.



Price/Unit Cost:

The MQ-1B Predator is no longer being purchased by the Air Force. The unit cost of the Army's MQ-1C Gray Eagle is $5.40 million in FY 2014, while the MQ-9 Reaper costs $14.42 million. These prices are for air vehicles only and does not include the cost of ground stations and other associated equipment. For the cost of these items, please refer to the budget downloads below.



MQ-1C - Total Cost - Life of Program (LoP):

The total procurement cost of the MQ-1C program is $3.10 billion (official DoD estimate) + $0.94 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $4.04 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made). This figure excludes military construction (MILCON) costs in support of the program in the amount of $658.2 million.



MQ-9 - Total Cost - Life of Program (LoP):

The total procurement cost of the MQ-9 program is $10.14 billion (official DoD estimate) + $1.65 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $11.79 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made). This figure excludes military construction (MILCON) costs in support of the program in the amount of $75.6 million.



Mission/Role:

The MQ-1 Predator provides the U.S. Air Force with an Over-The-Horizon (OTH), long-endurance, medium-altitude Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) and weapons delivery capability. MQ-1C Gray Eagle provides the U.S. Army with a long-endurance, persistent ISR and tactical strike capability. The Gray Eagle also serves as a communications relay. The MQ-9 Reaper performs multi-mission ISR and hunter-killer missions over land and sea in support of U.S. Air Force operations.



FY 2014 DoD Program:

The DoD will purchase 15 MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs for the Army in FY 2014. In total, procurement funds in the amount of $547.1M have been allocated to the MQ-1B Predator and MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

Also, the DoD will purchase 20 MQ-9 Reaper UAVs for the Air Force in FY 2014. Procurement funds in the amount of $455.8M have been allocated to the program.



FY 2015 DoD Program:

The DoD plans to purchase 19 MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs for the Army in FY 2014. In total, procurement funds in the amount of $224.1 million have been allocated to the MQ-1B Predator and MQ-1C Gray Eagle. For more information, click to see the FY 2015 MQ-1C Budget.

Also, the DoD plans to purchase 24 MQ-9 Reaper UAVs for the Air Force in FY 2015. Procurement funds in the amount of $641.9 million have been allocated to the program. For more information, click to see the FY 2015 MQ-9 Budget.




Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), General Atomics Corp.,
Honeywell and Raytheon.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

Last Update: November 4, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (jkasper@bga-aeroweb.com)

External Resources:



General Atomics' MQ-1B Site: MQ-1B Predator
General Atomics' MQ-1C Site: MQ-1C Gray Eagle
General Atomics' MQ-9 Site: MQ-9 Reaper

YouTube: MQ-1 Predator on YouTube
YouTube: MQ-9 Reaper on YouTube

Fact Sheet: MQ-1B Predator Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet: MQ-1C Gray Eagle Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet: MQ-9 Reaper Fact Sheet

Total MQ-1C Program Cost:

 $4.04 billion  ($3.10B procurement + $0.94B RDT&E)

MQ-1C Procurement Objective:

  31 aircraft  (29 production + 2 development)

MQ-1 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-1C Gray Eagle in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of MQ-1C Gray Eagle aircraft in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015

Total MQ-9 Program Cost:

 $11.79 billion  ($10.14B procurement + $1.65B RDT&E)

MQ-9 Procurement Objective:

  346 aircraft  (343 production + 3 development)

MQ-9 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the MQ-9 Reaper in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of MQ-9 Reaper aircraft in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

Go to Top

DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the MQ-1 Predator Defense Program

MQ-1B/MQ-1C - Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of MQ-1C Aircraft (ARMY) MQ-1C Aircraft Modifications (ARMY)
Special Forces MQ-1 (SOCOM) MQ-1B Predator Modifications (USAF) Aircraft Spares and Parts (USAF)
DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the MQ-9 Reaper Defense Program

MQ-9 Reaper - Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

MQ-9 Reaper Purchases (USAF) MQ-9 Reaper Modifications (USAF) Sequestration FY2013
Special Forces MQ-9 (SOCOM) Aircraft Spares and Parts (USAF)
Specifications

Aircraft Specifications: MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper

Go to Top

Aircraft Specifications | MQ-1B Predator

Primary Function: Armed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance and target acquisition
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
Power Plant: 1x Rotax 914F four cylinder engine with 115 hp
Wingspan: 55 ft (16.8 m)
Length: 27 ft (8.22 m)
Height: 6.9 ft (2.1 m)
Weight (Empty): 1,130 lbs (512 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 2,250 lbs (1,020 kg)
Payload: Internal: 450 lbs (204 kg); External: 300 lbs (136 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 625 lbs (284 kg)
Speed: Cruise: 70 kts/81 mph (130 km/h); Max: 117 kts/135 mph (217 km/h)
Service Ceiling: Up to 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Range: 675 nm/777 miles (1,427 km)
Endurance: Max. 40 hours
Armament/Weapons: 2x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Crew (remote): Two (pilot and sensor operator)
Price/Unit Cost: $20 million (FY 2009 dollars) - (includes four UAVs, a ground control station and a Predator Primary Satellite Link)
First Flight: July 1994
Deployed: Initial Operational Capability in March 2005
Inventory (U.S. Air Force):
Total: 165 /// Active: 129, ANG: 36; Reserve: 0 (as of September 2012)
Total: 156 /// Active: 120, ANG: 36; Reserve: 0 (as of September 2013)

Aircraft Specifications | MQ-1C Gray Eagle

Primary Function: Long-endurance, persistent ISR and tactical strike capability
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
Power Plant: 1x Thielert 2.0L four cylinder heavy-fuel piston engine with 165 hp
Wingspan: 56 ft (17.1 m)
Length: 28 ft (8.53 m)
Height: 6.9 ft (2.1 m)
Weight (Empty): Unknown
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 3,600 lbs (1,630 kg)
Payload: Internal: 575 lbs (261 kg); External: 500 lbs (227 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 600 lbs (100 gallons)
Speed: Cruise: 70 kts/81 mph (130 km/h); Max: 135 kts/155 mph (250 km/h)
Service Ceiling: Up to 29,000 ft (8,840 m)
Range: Unknown
Endurance: Max. 30 hours
Armament/Weapons: 4x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Crew (remote): Two (pilot and sensor operator)
Price/Unit Cost: $5.40 million (FY 2014) - Air vehicle only
First Flight: October 2004
Deployed: Unknown

Aircraft Specifications | MQ-9 Reaper

Primary Function: Unmanned hunter/killer weapon system
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
Power Plant: 1x Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine with 900 shp
Wingspan: 66 ft (20.1 m)
Length: 36 ft (11 m)
Height: 12.5 ft (3.8 m)
Weight (Empty): 4,900 lbs (2,223 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 10,500 lbs (4,760 kg)
Payload: Total: 3,850 lbs (1,746 kg) of which 850 lbs (386 kg) is internal
Fuel Capacity: 4,000 lbs (1,814 kg)
Speed: Cruise: 200 kts/230 mph (371 km/h); Max: 240 kts/276 mph (444 km/h)
Service Ceiling: Up to 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
Range: 1,000 nm/1,151 miles (1,853 km)
Endurance: 30 hours (14 hours fully loaded)
Armament/Weapons: 4x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles + 2x GBU-12 Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs or
2x GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)
Crew (remote): Two (pilot and sensor operator)
Price/Unit Cost: $14.42 million (FY 2014) - Air vehicle only
First Flight: February 2, 2001
Deployed: Initial Operational Capability in October 2007
Inventory (U.S. Air Force):
Total: 104 /// Active: 97, ANG: 7; Reserve: 0 (as of September 2012)
Total: 104 /// Active: 97, ANG: 7; Reserve: 0 (as of September 2013)

Defense Program

Aircraft Programs Missile Programs Space Programs Shipbuilding Programs Vehicle Programs

ADIR
Tweet