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MQ-9B Reaper variant to receive modular pod system to release swarm drones

General Atomics B maritime variant of its famous MQ-9 Reaper drone is set to receive a new pod system, allowing it to deploy smaller drones. The modular pods will allow the drone to be quickly equipped with a mission-related payload to improve the drone’s usefulness.

In November of last year, the pod system was tested with the standard MQ-9 Reaper model in collaboration with the US Navy. During the test, the dispenser pod released Sonobuoys, while another carried other anti-submarine systems.

The MQ-9B variant of the drone is a maritime version that meets NATO standards. It is used for various missions, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, humanitarian relief, law enforcement, and oceanic security measures.

Essentially the drone has been designed with the harsh environment of the ocean in mind, with hardware and software upgrades to keep it in the air.

Last year, an infographic released by the company showed off the full list of publicly known modules compatible with the Reaper drones. The list included electronic warfare systems, patrol radars, laser communications links, and, most interestingly, the launcher pod.

The launcher pod is currently only capable of releasing 10 Sonobuoys, essentially shot out of the drone. It is expected that the launcher pod will soon be able to release drones and guided missiles. Focusing on the drones, the pod would allow a swarm of smaller drones to be released to hit a target, protect the larger reaper drone, or provide surveillance from various angles.

MQ-9 Reaper

The MQ-9 Reaper, commonly known as the Predator B, has a maximum flight speed of 300 miles per hour and a cruising speed of 194 miles per hour. The drone can stay in the air for up to 14 hours when fully loaded, thanks to the Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engineer pumping out 900 horsepower.

The Reaper holds a combined payload weight of 3,800 pounds, with 800 pounds of it being stored internally and the other 3,000 pounds external. The drone has seven hardpoints that allow various ammunitions to be mounted to it and can accommodate a maximum of four Hellfire missiles, soon to be eight, and two Paveway 2 laser-guided bombs.

You can read more of our coverage of the MQ-9 Reaper below:

Photo: General Atomics



Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.