USAF’s Predator & Reaper UAVs Details, Role in Countering Islamic State in Syria

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) revealed the details of its Predator and Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and their role in countering Islamic State in Syria.

U.S. pilots assigned to squadrons across the 432nd Wing (WG) and the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) tasked with providing close air support. Other units are tasked to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) as needed by the coalition partners to dislodge Islamic State fighters’ Syrian city of Manbij with minimum civilian casualties.

UAVs Brief Details/Capabilities

The Predator has a wingspan of 55 feet, is 27 feet long, 6.9 feet high and carries a payload of up to 450 pounds and has a maximum speed of 135 mph (217 km/h).

The MQ-1B Predator is equipped with the Raytheon AN/AAS-52 Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS-A), which includes Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) video cameras and laser designators.

The MQ-1B carries up to two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. In March 2011, the USAF received the last of a total of 268 Predators.

The MQ–9 Reaper Extended Range (ER) is a new variant that comes with additional internal fuel capacity, a new reinforced landing gear, extended wings (13 ft increase => 79 ft wing span), and extended tail control surfaces.

U.S.  Air Force currently plans to purchase extended-range (ER) upgrade kits for nearly the entire fleet of MQ-9s. Only 38 Reapers carrying earlier ER modification kits with field-retrofittable capabilities, such as under-wing fuel pods, will not undergo the ER upgrade.

The Reaper ER has an endurance of up to 42 hours (flying without external stores). This compares to 27 hours for the baseline Reaper and 34 hours for the 38 Reapers that carry earlier field-retrofittable ER kits.

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