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'Reaper' moniker given to MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The Air Force chief of staff announced "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle.

The Air Force is the Department of Defense's executive agent for designating and naming military aerospace vehicles.

In the case of the Reaper, Gen. T. Michael Moseley made the final decision after an extensive nomination and review process, coordinated with the other services.

"The name Reaper is one of the suggestions that came from our Airmen in the field. It's fitting as it captures the lethal nature of this new weapon system," General Moseley said. 

The MQ-9 Reaper is the Air Force's first hunter-killer UAV. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets with 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles.

"The Reaper represents a significant evolution in UAV technology and employment," General Moseley said.  "We've moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper."

General Moseley stressed the key advantage is not keeping manned aircraft and pilots out of harm's way, but the persistence UAVs can inherently provide. The Reaper can stay airborne for up to 14 hours fully loaded.

A 900-horsepower turbo-prop engine, compared to the 119-horsepower Predator engine, powers the aircraft. It has a 64-foot wingspan and carries more than 15 times the ordnance of the Predator, flying almost three times the Predator's cruise speed.

The Air Force has seven MQ-9 Reapers in its inventory, with a full-rate production decision expected in 2009.

The Air Force is the global leader in UAV innovation, General Moseley said. 

"Today, the Air Force can launch a UAV from a remote field on the other side of the globe, then pilot that aircraft from a base in the United States. These systems and the Airmen who operate them offer unprecedented flexibility to combatant commanders worldwide," he said.


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