General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, manufacturer of the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, announced the availability of a new trailing arm design for the Reaper’s main landing gear. The company is currently in contract talks with the Air Force to retrofit the existing fleet with the arm, company spokeswoman Kimberly Kasitz told the Daily Report. The new gear is one of several features that the company is including in the Reaper Block 5 configuration. Among it benefits, the arm design enables a 30-percent increase in landing-weight capacity, has a maintenance-free shock absorber, and provides provisions for automatic takeoff and landing capability and for anti-lock brake system upgrades. The new gear underwent full qualification, fatigue, and flight testing in January 2011. Kasitz said any new MQ-9s would be delivered with the new gear installed after production cut-in.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.