General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has awarded a follow-on contract to Exelis for production of the BRU-71/A ejector rack for installation onboard the US Air Force’s (USAF) Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).
Covering the production of more than 500 units, the $20.6m contract represents the second BRU-71/A follow-on production contract for the company.
Awarded in February 2011, the first contract required the company to manufacture a total of 208 BRU-71/A units.
Weighing 19.6lb, the BRU-71/A is a pneumatic carriage and release system that employs compressed air instead of electro-explosive charges for payloads deployment.
Exelis electronic attack and release systems business area defense systems director Pete Martin said the BRU-71/A provides an advanced, high-performance airborne carriage and release capability to Reaper aircraft.
”It is also one-third the weight of existing ejector racks in its class, a critical factor in the performance and endurance of unmanned platforms,” Martin said.
Adaptable to a multitude of aircraft, the lightweight BRU-71/A lowers overall system maintenance and lifecycle costs, and provides significant enhancements compared to the previous generation racks.
The enhancements include ease of loading through independent, self-latching hooks, elimination of pyrotechnic impulse cartridges and the resultant cleaning and maintenance actions and a high-reliability pneumatic in-flight lock.
Manufacturing work under the contract will be carried out at the Exelis Electronic Systems facility in Amityville, New York, US, while deliveries are scheduled to commence this month and will be completed in June 2015.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a medium-to-high altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system (UAS) designed to conduct close air support, air interdiction and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The drone is also operational with the US Navy, Customs and Border Protection, and the Italian and UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
Image: A USAF’s MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle taxis into Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, US. Photo: courtesy of USAF Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.