Stubbornly Overheating Reapers

Industry and the Air Force are still working to fix the MQ-9 Reaper’s overheating problems, encountered during operations in hot climates, according to the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s annual report, released Feb. 1. Enhanced Block 5 Reapers incorporate design changes, including a pressurized air cooling system and ground cooling to mitigate the problem, but tests last year revealed the temperatures in the remotely piloted aircraft’s avionics bays still inhibited proper battery charging. This caused “depleted batteries prior to takeoff,” which ultimately results in an aborted sortie, according to the report. As of the end of Fiscal 2015, the Air Force still has “not identified a solution to the ongoing Block 5 RPA overheating problems,” and efforts to explore the issue have been hampered by lack of available test assets. Block 5 testing, in addition to unplanned capabilities upgrades, “overtaxed available operational test resources” last year, delaying a fix to the overheating issue, according to the report. Follow-on operational testing of the Block 5 Reaper, upgraded Block 30 Ground Control Station, and new software upgrades initially slated for FY14 will commence once the overheating problem is resolved.