A weapons-carrying Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper. Courtesy General Atomics

Poway-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has won a $279.1 million contract to build 24 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper attack drones for the Air Force.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio announced the deal, which includes spare parts and support equipment.

The Reaper is a variant of the General Atomics’ original Predator. The Reaper is designed for surveillance and attack missions using a suite of airborne sensors and the AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missile. The craft can fly for 27 hours at an altitude of 50,000 feet.

Users include the U.S. Air Force, British Royal Air Force and Italian Air Force.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.