The U.S. Air Force began the search for a new drone, which will replace the MQ-9 Reaper. According to businessinsider.com, the U.S. Air Force has officially issued a request for information (requests for information, RFI) to find a new reconnaissance and strike drone.
According to the portal, next year the Air Force will purchase the last batch of MQ-9 Reaper in the amount of 24 drones, after which it is planned to purchase new UAVs. According to the plans of the Air Force command, the new drone should be put into service in 2030, until that time the available MQ-9 Reaper fleet will be used. In total, taking into account the plans to purchase 24 drones, the US Air Force has received 337 drones over the years instead of the planned 363. The Air Force has refused to purchase the remaining drones.
The desire to replace the MQ-9 Reaper with another drone was reported back in March this year, when official information appeared that the U.S. Air Force was considering withdrawing the MQ-9 Reaper from service due to its vulnerability to modern air defense systems.
According to Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of State for Procurement, Technology and Logistics, the US Air Force is considering replacing the MQ-9 Reaper with cheaper reusable drones that are "not a pity to lose."
Note that the first flight of the drone MQ-9 Reaper took place on February 2, 2001. The drone is equipped with a turboprop engine. According to General Atomics, the Reaper, which has become the main strike UAV in the United States, has a flight duration of more than 27 hours, a maximum speed of up to 400 km / h and a cruising speed of up to 250 km / h, a ceiling of up to 15 km and a carrying capacity of 1740 kg with 6 suspension points.
The MQ-9 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundancy of the avionics system architecture. Able to carry Hellfire missiles with GOS and GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, as well as GBU-38 satellite-guided bombs.
Intelligence and combat UAV MQ-9 are in service with the Air Force and the CIA, as well as the Air Force of Italy, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, France, the United Kingdom and other countries.