Reaper Successor

By James Drew / March 20, 2014 at 8:56 PM

The Air Force is exploring options for a follow-on to the MQ-9 Reaper even as the service scales back procurement of the remotely piloted aircraft and looks to fully retire its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator.

According to service spokeswoman Maj. Mary Danner-Jones, Air Combat Command recently established an ISR Futures Office to begin the formal process of defining the requirements of a follow-on RPA for medium-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

"The formal process for defining . . . requirements is in the initial stages of development and will be shaped by our national- and defense-strategy goals," she said in a March 19 email.

A top contender for the position is the General Atomics Predator C, known as the Avenger. The service procured its first Avenger as test platform in 2009 and that unit is still in operation today.