More powerful even than Bayraktar: what is known about the MQ-9 Reaper drone that Russia shot down in the Black Sea
On March 14, an American MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down in the sky over the Black Sea. This is the main reconnaissance strike UAV of the US Air Force, which may later end up in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
It should be noted that Ukraine has already begun negotiations with the United States and manufacturers of heavy strike drones from General Atomics – the MQ-9 Reaper.
According to their characteristics, they are much better than even the famous Bayraktar. What is known about the MQ-9 Reaper, how they can change the course of the war and why it is important for Ukraine to get them – Channel 24 figured it out.
Russian Su-27s damaged the American MQ-9 Reaper
In the sky over the Black Sea on March 14, a Russian Su-27 fighter rammed an American MQ-9 Reaper drone. The drone fell into the sea west of the temporarily occupied Crimea.
The US European Command noted that the drone was operating in international airspace over the Black Sea. Several times before the collision, 2 Russian Su-27 planes tried to intercept it by dropping fuel in front of the drone.
At approximately 7 am , one of the Russian Su-27s crashed into the propeller of an MQ-9 , causing US forces to sink the MQ-9 in international waters. the military said.
The Command added that this incident demonstrates “the incompetence, as well as the danger and incompetence of the Russian side.”
“In fact, this dangerous and unprofessional action by the Russians almost led to the crash of both planes,” said US Air Force General James Hecker.
NATO's top military commander, General Christopher Cavoli, has already briefed all 30 NATO member states of the downing of the MQ-9 Reaper. United States President Joseph Biden is also aware of this incident.
In connection with this event, the United States immediately summoned Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to Washington, to the State Department.
What is known about the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper
Reconnaissance and strike UAV. It was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for use by the US Air Force, US Navy and British Air Force. This drone is super powerful, it is equipped with a turboprop engine that allows it to reach speeds of over 400 kilometers per hour. The service ceiling is 13,000 meters, and the maximum flight duration is 24 hours.
Features of the MQ-9 Reaper:
- Ceiling: 15 kilometers.
- Autonomy: 16 – 28 hours.
- Range: 1900 km.
- Length: 11 meters.
- Load capacity: 1700 kg.
- Weight: 2223 kilograms (empty); 4760 kilograms (maximum).
- Wingspan: 20 meters.
- Maximum speed: 482 kilometers per hour.
- Cruise speed: 313 kilometers per hour.
He is armed with 6 suspension points:
- 2 internal 680 kilograms.
- 2 in the middle of the wing, 230 – 270 kilograms each.
- 2 console 68 – 91 kilograms.
The only drone in Ukraine similar to the MQ-9 Reaper is the Turkish Bayraktar TB2. However, the latter loses significantly in performance . Thus, the MQ-9 Reaper has a longer range (1900 kilometers versus 150 kilometers), a higher flight speed (400 kilometers per hour versus 222 kilometers per hour).
The engine power of the American drone is more than 900 horsepower (TB-2 Bayraktar has 100 horsepower). As for weapons, the TB-2 Bayraktar has four hardpoints for ammunition weighing up to 37.5 kilograms.
True, the MQ-9 Reaper is much more expensive than the TB-2 Bayraktar – $ 32 million versus $ 1 – 2 million.
MQ-9 Reaper is significantly more expensive than TB-2 Bayraktar / Photo from Facebook Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Features of Bayraktar TB2:
- Length: 6.5 meters.
- Wingspan: 12 meters.
- Maximum takeoff weight: 650 kilograms.
- Load capacity: 55 kilograms.
- Maximum speed: 222 kilometers per hour.
- Cruise speed: 130 kilometers per hour.
- Range: 150 kilometers, updated version – up to 300 kilometers.
- Ceiling: 8200 meters.
- Autonomy: 24 hours.
Why Ukraine needs the MQ-9 Reaper
The MQ-9 Reaper is equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire precision missiles. These missiles, with a relatively small weight of 50 kilograms, have a flight range of up to 8-11 kilometers, and the power of the warhead is enough to destroy all types of armored vehicles on the battlefield. For a more powerful strike, 230-kilogram precision-guided bombs can be used.
The MQ-9 Reaper can fire air-to-air missiles, in particular the AIM-9X, with a target destruction range of up to 35 kilometres. The drone also has powerful sensors, in addition to the usual thermal imagers, it has a synthetic aperture radar. It is designed to see the enemy on the ground despite the clouds.
What the MQ-9 Reaper looks like: watch the video
Another advantage of the drone is the satellite communication channel between the drone and the control station. That is, such a thing as a control range is not at all important for this drone. It is also practically impossible to jam such communications with electronic warfare stations.
The MQ-9 Reaper has an ER (extended range) version with an extended flight range of up to 2575 kilometers. That is, such a drone can be used from the deep Ukrainian rear. It is also possible to strike them at the rear of Russian troops or use them for reconnaissance behind enemy lines.
Drones are in service in the United States and a number of other countries / Photo from Facebook of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
UAVs were actively used during the war in Afghanistan and Syria.
Drones are in service with the following countries:
- USA: 200 MQ-9A and 35 MQ-9.
- United Kingdom: 10 MQ-9A.
- Italy: 9 MQ-9A.
- Turkey: 4 MQ-9s.
- France: 6 MQ-9A.
Ukraine can get these drones for $1
The arms manufacturer is offering the Ukrainian government two Reaper MQ-9 drones for one dollar. The proposal will include a ground control station to control the drones almost anywhere. The proposal was made by Linden Blue, chief executive of General Atomics, which makes the Reapers.
However, the agreement will require Kiev to spend about $10 million on preparation and delivery, and about $8 million each year on maintenance.
The White House, which must approve the sale, declined to comment. A General Atomics spokesman said the company could not comment on specific agreements, but “they believe Ukraine needs drones like the Reaper in the near future.”