General Atomics Guardian Maritime Patrol Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) (United States)
The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency operates several specially-modified MQ-9 Reapers as the Guardian.
Entry last updated on 5/25/2014; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The General Atomics "Guardian" is a modified maritime patrol variant of the successful line of General Atomics MQ-9 "Reaper" Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) family and operated under the banner of the United States Customs and Border Protection (US CBP). The CBP operates at least two in this navalized role, outfitted with the SeaVue marine search radar system. Additionally, they sport a special over-water electro-optical infrared sensor for the role. The MQ-9 Reaper (formerly known as "Predator B") forms a long-endurance, high-altitude, armed patrol role for the United States Air Force (USAF) and is in service with the forces of Australia, Britain, Netherlands and Italy as well with over 100 units built.
These aircraft retain much of the same form and function of their Reaper counterparts including their straight mainplanes, Vee-shaped vertical tail fins and bulbous nose section. However, a special extension is noted along the belly, mounting a pod, and winglets are added to the mainplane tips. The aircraft is still powered by a conventional engine system (Honeywell turboprop) that drives a three-bladed propeller unit at the rear of the fuselage in a "pusher" configuration. The integrated, retractable wheeled undercarriage allows the aircraft to take-off and land from any prepared runway.
The Guardians are known to be based out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Florida) and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (Texas).