Predator B Big Wing flies over 37 hours non-stop
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced the longest endurance flight of the Predator B/ MQ-9 Reaper Big Wing aircraft, a next-generation derivative of the combat-proven Predator B RPA.
“This long-endurance flight demonstrates Predator B Big Wing’s game-changing potential for providing life-saving persistent ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) in support of US and coalition warfighters,” said David R. Alexander, President, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “Our company continually strives to extend Predator B’s already impressive endurance further, pushing the aircraft’s capabilities to its full potential.”
During the flight, Predator B Big Wing demonstrated its ability to launch, climb to an operational altitude, loiter and conduct reconnaissance manoeuvres, and land after 37.5 hours without incident. A follow-on test programme will be conducted to expand its flight envelope further and push its endurance profile to the limit.
Predator B Big Wing also offers short-field take-off and landing performance, as well as active lift spoilers on the wings which enable precision automatic landings. Its wings have additional hard points for carrying external stores and provisions for a leading-edge de-icing system and integrated low- and high-band radio frequency (RF) antennas. An earlier version of Predator B Big Wing featured two wing-mounted fuel tanks and is currently operational with the US Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper ER.