General Atomics‘ aeronautical systems group conducted the first flight of the extended-range variant of its Predator B remotely piloted aircraft at Gray Butte Flight Test Facility on Feb. 18 to demonstrate launch ability, airworthiness and landing capability.
The Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper extended-range long-wing upgrades include 13 feet of additional wingspan designed to boost aircraft endurance by 13 hours, short-field takeoff and landing modifications that work to support automatic landing, General Atomics said Feb. 25.
Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, said the Predator B ER long-wing design aims to match STANAG 4671 standards and address issues such as lightning, bird strike protection and extreme environments.
General Atomics added the aircraft, which the company developed under its internal research and development efforts, will undergo further flight tests to determine full operational capability.
The company aims to have a certifiable production aircraft by 2018.
MQ-9 Reaper works to detect and neutralize targets as well as support surveillance missions.