The U.S. Air Force has contracted San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for retrofit kits and installations for up to 80 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft.
The contract is worth $87.3 million, and will primarily involve installing the new trailing arm/heavy weight landing gear (TA-MLG) and upgrading the MQ-9 weapons kit from BRU-15 to BRU-71/A bomb racks.
GA-ASI said the enhanced landing gear will provide the MQ-9 with a 30 percent increase in landing weight capacity and a growth path to increase gross takeoff weight by approximately 12 percent. The landing gear underwent successful full qualification, fatigue testing and flight testing in January 2011.
“We will start ordering parts and assembling the kits immediately, but due to lead and production durations, the installations won’t begin for another 18 months or so,” said GA-ASI in a statement.
The Air Force expects the retrofits to be completed by 2016.