On July 29, 2022, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) tested a PT6 E-Series model turboprop engine from Pratt & Whitney Canada on GA-ASI’s MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). Multiple full-power engine tests were performed at GA-ASI’s Desert Horizon flight operations facility in El Mirage, California. The PT6 E-Series is a reliable and versatile turboprop engine family that will deliver the performance characteristics required as GA-ASI continues its development of MQ-9B capabilities. GA-ASI has enjoyed a long-term collaboration with Pratt & Whitney for over a decade with their turbofan engine for GA-ASI’s MQ-20 Avenger RPA.
“Our PT6 E-series is the ideal engine for this mission and we look forward to working with General Atomics on this important program,” said Jill Albertelli, president of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines.
“We’ve enjoyed a long-term relationship with Pratt & Whitney. Integrating their PT6 E-Series engine onto our MQ-9B SkyGuardian® aircraft offers an alternate option for future customers that includes a 33 percent increase in power, dual channel electronic propeller and engine control system, as well as all the benefits of the PT6 engine family,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander.
The MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the U.S. Air Force. MQ-9B represents the next generation of RPA system having demonstrated airborne endurance of more than 40 hours in certain configurations, automatic takeoffs and landings under SATCOM-only control, as well as a GA-ASI developed Detect and Avoid system. Its development is the result of a company-funded effort to deliver an RPA that can meet the stringent airworthiness certification requirements of various military and civil authorities.
GA-ASI has developed a variant of the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) series that meets NATO standards (STANAG-4671), and in cooperation with the FAA, will subsequently meet airworthiness certification standards domestically and around the world. It leverages both the Predator B RPA and Certifiable Ground Control Station (CGCS) as points-of-departure systems and identifies and incorporates the changes needed to achieve a “Type-Certifiable” system. The Royal Air Force was the very first to acquire the SkyGuardian, referred to as PROTECTOR by the British acquisition program, as a replacement for its Reaper fleet.