US Air Force Debuts Latest Variant Of MQ-9 Reaper Drone

The US Air Force flew the latest Block 5 variant of the MQ-9 Reaper drone for the first time last week.

The aircrew flew a sortie of more than 16 hours on June 23 with a full payload of weapons including GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, the air force press release states.

During the mission, the crew employed one GBU-38 and two Hellfires while providing hours of armed reconnaissance for supported ground forces.

“Working in conjunction with coalition joint terminal attack controllers, other MQ-9 aircraft and crews, our aircrews employed two Hellfires and one GBU-38,” said Maj. Dan, the 432nd Wing director of operations. “All three strikes met the ground force commander’s intent and destroyed two defensive fighting positions, two vehicles and one mortar tube.”

The Block 5 MQ-9 is equipped with improved electrical and communications systems which provides better software and hardware upgrades for future operations providing dominant persistent attack and reconnaissance to joint force commanders. The aircraft must also be flown with the new Block 30 cockpit that required different training for the aircrews.

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