A Russian Su-27 fighter jet slammed into the propeller of a US military ‘Reaper’ surveillance drone on Tuesday, causing it to crash into the Black Sea in an incident described as ‘reckless’ by the US military .
Below is a description of the MQ-9 “Reaper” drone based on information from the Air Force and its manufacturer, General Atomics.
What it does and who owns it:
The MQ-9 “Reaper” unmanned aerial vehicle can hover up to 50,000 feet for more than 27 hours, gathering intelligence with sophisticated cameras, sensors and radars. It has a wingspan of 66 feet, a Honeywell engine, can carry 3,900 pounds of fuel and travel at a speed of 240 knots ‘true speed’.
The Reaper, which was delivered to the Air Force 16 years ago, can also be equipped with weapons such as air-to-surface missiles.
MQ-9s have also been purchased by the United States Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the British Royal Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the French Air Force and the Army of spanish air.
What are the benefits of drones?
Drones are generally less expensive than manned aircraft with similar capabilities, and are safer for operators because they don’t require a pilot. Unlike most other aircraft, drones can hang around for hours collecting intelligence material. They cost about $3,500 per flight hour, compared to about $8,000 per flight hour to operate, say, an F-16, according to General Atomics.
According to the Air Force, for $56.5 million they can buy four MQ-9 aircraft with sensors, a ground control station and a satellite link.
Can an MQ-9 defend itself
General Atomics claims the MQ-9 “demonstrated air-to-air weapons capability” in Air Force testing. It can also be equipped with a “Self Protect Pod” capable of detecting threats and deploying countermeasures against surface-to-air weapons.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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