BERLIN, June 2 (UPI) -- The Big Wing next-generation derivative of the Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system has performed a 37-hour, non-stop flight in testing by GA-ASI.
The flight in California demonstrated Predator B Big Wing's ability to boost flight time by over 10 hours while replicating an operational mission in altitude and maneuver profile, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems said at the ILA Berlin Airshow.
"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 U.S. 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."
GA-ASI said follow-on testing of the aircraft will be conducted to further expand the aircraft's flight envelope endurance profile.
The company said the Predator B Big Wing also features short-field takeoff and landing performance, active lift spoilers on the wings for precision automatic landings, additional hard points for carrying external stores and provisions and integrated low- and high-band radio frequency antennas.
The Predator B Big Wing has a wing span that is 13 feet longer than Predator B and incorporates greater internal fuel capacity to increase flight endurance from 27 hours. The variant is expected to receive certification for production early in 2018.