Episode 15 – Fear the Reaper: MQ-9 Operations Today and Tomorrow

Episode Summary

The Mitchell Institute is pleased to release episode 15 of its Aerospace Advantage podcast: Fear the Reaper: MQ-9 Operations Today and Tomorrow. The MQ-9 Reaper is one of the most iconic combat aircraft in modern history. Whether you call it a remotely piloted aircraft, an unmanned aerial vehicle, or a drone—this aircraft, its mission enterprise, and the people who operate it have fundamentally transformed what it means to fly and fight. Nor have all the chapters been written for this aircraft. While the MQ-9 may best be known for what it did over places like Afghanistan and Iraq in low-intensity counterinsurgency and counter terrorism operations, future years will see it rack up new accomplishments in far different operating situations around the globe. Join us for a conversation with those who fly this legendary aircraft and the experts who designed, built, and sustain it.

Full Topic Guide

MQ-9 Reaper is a unique platform that has fundamentally changed the way we fly and fight. Join John “Slick” Baum as he is joined by Mitchell Institute Executive Director Doug Birkey, experienced MQ-9 Reaper pilot Lt Col Johnny Duray, and General Atomics’ lead architect for the MQ-9, Jaime Walters, to discuss the current and future applications of this unique aircraft.

The capabilities of the MQ-9 as a sensor-shooter aircraft, combined with the ability for long duration flight, makes it uniquely valuable. Although primarily used in low-tier conflicts, the platform will also prove very useful addressing more advanced threats like China and Russia.

Time Marks

00:49 – Doug Birkey provides context regarding the way in which MQ-9s have been used in the past and will likely be employed in the future.

9:25 – Lt Col Johnny Duray joins the show to provide the operator’s perspective on what the MQ-9 brings to the COCOM’s set of capabilities

21:27 – Lt Col Johnny Duray describes the different ways the MQ-9 can adapt to meet future threats

28:30 – Jaime Walters provides his perspective regarding the MQ-9’s operating capabilities as General Atomics’ lead architect for the aircraft system.  

39:20 – Jaime Walters describes the steps General Atomics is taking to better integrate the pilots into the Certifiable Ground Control Stations (CGCS) for the MQ-9B and future MQ-9 adaptations


Host: Lt Col John “Slick” Baum, USAF, ret.

Producer: Daniel C. Rice

Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey

Guest: Douglas Birkey, Executive Director, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Guest: Lt Col Johnny Duray, USAF

Guest: Jaime Walters, Senior Technical Direction – MQ-9 Platform, General Atomics

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