Having drones in your arsenal of weapons is always a comforting thought, especially when you take into consideration how you can pick off your enemies from afar without having to risk life and limb of your soldiers and fellow comrades. Hence, technological advancements when it comes to drones need to be stepped up always in order to keep ahead of the competition, and the Predator B drone has gotten such an upgrade – albeit a simple one, in the form of longer wings so that it can boost the drone’s flight endurance time.
Popularly known as the MQ-9 Reaper, the Predator B has managed to perform its maiden flight with extended wings for greater endurance to great success. This flight actually took place in January 2016 at the Gray Butte Flight Test Facility in Palmdale, California with a test aircraft, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI).
Linden Blue, GA-ASI’s chied executive officer, shared, “Predator B ER’s [extended range] new 79-foot wing span not only boosts the RPA’s endurance and range, but also serves as proof-of-concept for the next-generation Predator B aircraft that will be designed for Type-Certification and airspace integration. The wing was designed to conform to STANAG 4671, and includes lightning and bird strike protection, non-destructive testing, and advanced composite and adhesive materials for extreme environments.”
The test saw the Predator B ER Long Wing launch, climb to an initial flight test altitude of 7,500 feet, engage in a slew of basic airworthiness maneuvers, and make a perfect landing without cause for concern or sweat on a brow. With an addition of 13 feet to its wingspan, the aircraft’s flight endurance would now hit 40 hours rather than 27 hours.