MQ-9 Reaper Looks Deadly Even When Idle, Location a Secret

MQ-9 Reaper waiting to be deployed 10 photos
Photo: USAF/Tech. Sgt. James Bentley
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Drones… For a long time part of our lives, they’re only now coming into the spotlight as remotely operated warriors, wreaking havoc on the battlefields of Eastern Europe. Yet, most of the drones seen in action over in Ukraine are not officially meant for military use. The MQ-9 Reaper is.
The General Atomics-made machine has been around since 2001. It has been specifically designed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, but it has more than enough offensive capabilities to deal significant damage to enemy forces.

Since its arrival in this world, the fleet of Reapers has surpassed 2 million flight hours. That happened back in March this year, and who knows how many more hours have been completed since.

The Reaper uses a Honeywell turboprop engine. It can stay in the air for 27 hours (34 hours for the extended range variant) at a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet (15 km) and can shoot anything from pictures of enemy locations and assets to Hellfire missiles.

Through the nature of their work, these drones do not really operate in public. Most of the missions they perform are secret, and so are, in many cases, the locations from where they operate.

You can see one of these drones as the main image of this piece, recently made public by the U.S. Air Force (USAF). It shows a Reaper flight line at an undisclosed location at the beginning of August, looking like a herald of doom for anyone who dares oppose it.

This particular drone is deployed with the 361 Expeditionary Attack Squadron, which flies it in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the global effort meant to fight terrorist organization Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. is the main user of the weapon. There are about 200 of them currently in service, also serving the needs of the UK, Italy, France and Spain, and there was even talk earlier this year they’ll be sent to Ukraine.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other Reapers.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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