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MQ-9 Reaper Evolution: variants, US Marine Corps deployment

The MQ-9 Reaper, also known as the Predator B, is one of the oldest operational military drones, with origins dating back to 2001. Manufactured by General Atomics, this unmanned aerial vehicle has gone through several iterations and remains a cornerstone of military reconnaissance and attack options.

Powered by a Honeywell engine, the Reaper has impressive endurance and can fly for up to 27 hours at speeds of up to 446 km/h. The versatility extends to the payload, accommodating surveillance equipment and armaments such as Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.

Recent developments include the introduction of the Extended Range (ER) variant, which is designed with field retrofitting capabilities and strengthened landing gear. This variant increases endurance to 34 hours and offers extensive operational capabilities for military missions.

MQ-9 Reaper Evolution
MQ-9 Reaper Evolution (Credit: General Atomics)

Notably, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) has received its first MQ-9 Reaper ER, marking a major milestone in unmanned aerial capabilities. While the United States Air Force (USAF) has done so

has already ordered numerous Reapers, the USMC acquisition underlines the growing importance of drones in modern military operations.

Operated by the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Training Squadron 2 (VMUT-2), the MQ-9 Reaper ER represents a strategic asset for enhancing reconnaissance and combat capabilities.

General Atomics continues to innovate, ensuring the MQ-9 Reaper remains at the forefront of unmanned aerial technology and supports diverse military missions with its reliability and versatility.