The Air Force MQ-9 hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle, called by its maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a Predator B, has officially been dubbed “Reaper.” Gen. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff, chose the name, which came from airmen in the field, because “it captures the lethal nature of the new weapon system,” according to an Air Force press release. The MQ-9 is the big brother of the MQ-1 Predator. It can carry 15 times the ordnance of the Predator, fly three times as fast and can stay airborne for 14 hours fully loaded. Currently, the Air Force has seven MQ-9s and doesn’t expect to make a full rate production decision until 2009. GAAS said earlier this year the company could ramp up production at any time.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.