General Atomics announced that it would be developing a short take-off and landing (STOL) conversion kit intended to adapt MQ-9B Reaper high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) drones for carrier operations.
The kit will be compatible with all MQ-9Bs and allow them to be based on both carriers and amphibious assault ships, the company said.
With the kit installed, the MQ-9 can be stored and operated alongside other kinds of carrier-borne aircraft. The modification consists of optional wing and tail modules and can be installed in a day by an operator.
“Imagine taking the hard top off your Jeep. You lift it off, stow it in your garage and now you’ve got an open vehicle. If it rains, you put the hard top back on. We’re the same. Take a standard MQ-9B, put the STOL kit on, and then go fly,” the President of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, David R. Alexander, is quoted as saying in the company’s press release.
Introduced in 2007 as a deep modification of the MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-9 Reaper is one of the most prolific and versatile long-endurance drones, performing a variety of roles, including surveillance and ground attack. In 2019, the type scored its first air-to-air kill on a target drone, while several countries, such as the United Kingdom, went on to develop their own modifications of the model.