SAN DIEGO, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- An upgraded version of the Predator MQ-9 Reaper, the U.S. military's premier unmanned aerial vehicle, has successfully completed its first flight.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. said Friday its Block 1-plus Predator took to the air in early summer in California and performed without problem.
"The first flight of the MQ-9 Block 1-plus follows in the footsteps of the aircraft's combat-proven Block 1 configuration and is an important technological achievement that will provide increased effectiveness, increased multi-mission flexibility, and even greater reliability," said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI.
The MQ-9 Block 1-plus features enhancements that provide increased electrical power, secure communications, automatic landing, increased gross takeoff weight, better integration of payloads and the use of additional weapons.
The company said that with the completion of development, testing and expected Milestone C decision this fall, follow-on aircraft to the MQ-9 Block 1-plus configuration will be designated MQ-9 Block 5.
Included in the Block 5 will be dual ARC-210 VHF/UHF radios with wingtip antennas that allow simultaneous communications between multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground parties; secure data links; and an increased data transmission capacity.