MQ-9 Reaper is made by California-based General Atomics (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
Top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed Friday in a US strike on Baghdad's international airport. The strike was carried out after US President Donald Trump ordered Soleimani's "killing" hours after a pro-Iran mob laid siege to the embassy in Baghdad. A volley of missiles hit Baghdad's international airport, striking a convoy belonging to the Hashed al-Shaabi, an Iraqi paramilitary force with close ties to Iran. The Hashed confirmed Soleimani and Hashed al-Shaabi deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in what it said was a "US strike that targeted their car on the Baghdad International Airport road."
Soon, it became clear that the missiles were fired from US military drones. It was precision attack that without any collateral damage. According to reports, the strike was carried out by American MQ-9 Reaper drone.
MQ-9 Reaper is made by California-based General Atomics. It has been in use by the US military since it replaced the MQ-1 Predator in July 2017. MQ-9 Reaper drone has a laser range finder/designator, which precisely designates targets for employment of laser-guided munitions, such as the Guided Bomb Unit-12 Paveway II.
According to the US Air Force website, the MQ-9 Reaper’s “significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite and precision weapons” mean that it “provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets”.
The "M" is the DOD designation for multi-role, and "Q" means remotely piloted aircraft system. The "9" indicates it is the ninth in the series of remotely piloted aircraft systems.
MQ-9 Reaper: General Characteristics
Primary function: Find, fix, and finish targets
Contractor: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
Power plant: Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine
Thrust: 900 shaft horsepower maximum
Wingspan: 66 feet (20.1 meters)
Length: 36 feet (11 meters)
Height: 12.5 feet (3.8 meters)
Weight: 4,900 pounds (2,223 kilograms) empty
Maximum takeoff weight: 10,500 pounds (4,760 kilograms)
Fuel capacity: 4,000 pounds (602 gallons)
Payload: 3,750 pounds (1,701 kilograms)
Speed: Cruise speed around 230 mph (200 knots)
Range: 1,150 miles (1,000 nautical miles)
Ceiling: Up to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters)
Armament: combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions
Crew (Remote): two (pilot and sensor operator)
Unit Cost: 64.2 million Dollars (includes four aircraft, sensors, GCSs, and Comm)
(All data as published by US Air Force)