Our cousins across the pond have achieved an historic milestone: the RAF’s Reaper program logged more than 10,000 hours over Afghanistan. In-theater since October 2007, the Reaper is the only Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) operated by the U.K.
The MQ-9 Reaper has surpassed the Predator as the premier attack drone. With a longer wingspan, greater endurance, bigger payload, faster speed and higher service ceiling (25,000 vs. 50,000 feet), the Reaper is an integral part of each military’s airpower capacity. Known as a hunter-killer, the Reaper possesses extensive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, and scored its first “kill” in Octover 2007.
The UK variant is operated by 39 Squadron from the same spot as their American colleagues—Creech AFB, Nevada. The squadron’s motto is “Die noctique” (By day and night) and fittingly, since November 2009, the Reaper has been supporting operations 24 hours a day.
According to Wing Commander Jules Ball, Officer Commanding 39 Squadron, "The squadron's personnel, from pilots to imagery analysts and support teams, are motivated and dedicated to supporting all our coalition forces and the people of Afghanistan; everyone has played a significant part in the delivery of this landmark achievement. It's absolutely clear that the Reaper plays a vital role in delivering Air's contribution to operations in Afghanistan."