The MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range remotely piloted aircraft. Courtesy General Atomics

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced Tuesday that it latest remotely-piloted aircraft, the MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range, has entered service with the U.S. Air Force.

The new aircraft, a variant of the iconic Predator series, uses two wing-mounted fuel tanks and a new four-blade propeller to for significantly extended range.

“Reaper ER provides a tremendous capability increase in both range and endurance, and achieving this major program milestone wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and commitment of our employees,” said Frank W. Pace, president of aircraft systems in Poway.

“We are pleased that the Reaper ER program has met the expectations of our Air Force customer and satisfied the enormous challenge of their Quick Reaction Capability schedule requirement,” he added.

General Atomics is building 38 Reaper ER aircraft for the Air Force. In addition, older Reapers can be retrofitted in the filed to the new extended range version.

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Chris Jennewein

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