WASHINGTON, April 20 (UPI) -- Flight endurance times for the U.S.-made Predator B/MQ-9 UAS can be extended in the near term through two new options from its manufacturer.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. said the options feature kits that can be installed in the field and don't involve costly depot aircraft modifications.
The first option extends the unmanned aerial system's endurance in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from 27 hours to 37 hours by adding fuel pods to its wings.
The second optimizes the aircraft for multipurpose missions. The aircraft's 66-foot wings are replaced with 88-foot wings, resulting in an endurance boost to 42 hours on ISR-only missions.
"We are continually seeking ways to improve our platforms, making them more relevant for our customers' emerging needs," said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI.
"We've designed field-retrofittable capabilities -- lengthened wings, wing-borne fuel pods, and new heavy-weight landing gear -- that greatly extend Reaper's already impressive endurance and range while further increasing its operational flexibility."
GA-ASI said the enhancements are the result of a company-funded endurance enhancement study.