KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles are being given an extended range modification, and the first upgraded aircraft flew a sortie out of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, on Dec. 1.
The 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron stationed at the Kandahar Airfield have completed the modification for almost half of their fleet of MQ-9 Reapers, flying the first ER sortie in Afghanistan. The modifications enhanced the unmanned aircraft's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission capabilities.
"All of our ER aircraft out here were boxed up, shipped out, and between us and our General Atomics partners, we performed all the mods here in the AOR," 62nd ERS maintenance operations officer Capt. Garrik said in a statement.
The modifications, which took a month to complete, increase the fleet's flight length capability by 20 to 40 percent depending on the UAV's loadout.
"Instead of having to come back, land and try to get another airplane out there, it allows the airplane to stay airborne longer," maintenance officer Capt. Mike explained.