MQ-9 Reaper

Aircrews perform a preflight check on an MQ-9 Reaper before it takes off for a mission in Afghanistan. The Reaper is larger and more heavily-armed than the MQ-1 Predator and in addition to its traditional ISR capabilities, is designed to attack time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision.

A lot of folks are surprised at the size of the Predator and Reaper. I know that I was. I think people think it’s small because it’s unmanned. This is a good photo to give a sense of how large the Predator-B Reaper is.

The original MQ-1 Predator had a length of 27 feet and a wingspan of 48 feet. The Reaper is 36 feet long with a wingspan of 66 feet.

Here’s an artist’s rendering of a fully loaded Reaper. Here’s a kinder, friendlier version.

UPDATE: Reader comment:

You know what just occurred to me? The MQ1 Predator was almost as long as a WW2 fighter with slightly greater wingspan. The MQ9 is longer than a P51 with something like twice the wingspan. And much much more firepower. And no one in the cockpit. Not that there is a cockpit.

That hadn’t occurred to Murdoc. Sure helps put it in perspective.