||MQ-5B Hunter is a multi-mission, medium altitude endurance tactical unmanned aerial system optimized to provide division and corps commanders with a dedicated reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) capability. It builds upon the successful combat heritage of the workhorse RQ-5A Hunter, the U.S. Army's first fielded UAV system (1996). Operated and maintained in the field by enlisted soldiers, the RQ-5A has accomplished its missions with distinction in peace and war, setting DoD standards for reliability and availability.
The MQ-5B conducts battlefield surveillance using its multi-mission optronic payload. Flying over the battlefield, it gathers RSTA and battle damage information in real time, then relays it via video link to commanders and soldiers on the ground. The payload also broadcasts its sensor data to ground control and mission monitoring stations, providing commanders with enhanced situation awareness and the ability to proactively plan and execute decisive combat operations.
The MQ-5B Hunter is distinguished from the original RQ-5A Hunter by its heavy fuel engine, a Department of Defense (DoD) first, its "wet" (fuel-carrying) extended center wing with weapons capable hard points, and the most modern avionics suite in the DoD inventory. The MQ-5B Hunter system uses an Army One System ground control station, and features an automated take-off and landing capability, both common to Army UAV systems.
The MQ-5B features a robust, fixed-wing, twin tail-boom design with redundant control systems powered by two heavy fuel engines, one to "push", one to "pull" the air vehicle. With a gross take-off weight of 1800 pounds, it can fly at altitudes up to 22,000 feet, performing missions up to 15 hours in duration. Unique capabilities include a relay mode that allows one Hunter to control another at extended ranges or over terrain obstacles typical of those found in the Balkans.
Heavy Fuel Engine:
To help the Army achieve its goal of a single battlefield fuel, Northrop Grumman adapted a commercial-off-the-shelf heavy fuel engine that allows MQ-5B AV to climb faster, operate at higher altitudes and increase endurance while reducing maintenance time and operations and support costs.
Wet (Fuel-Carrying) Extended Center Wing:
To increase Hunter's ability to carry and employ external weapon stores, Northrop Grumman designed and produced a longer, fuel-carrying center wing featuring two hard points. Northrop Grumman's Viper Strike laser-guided munition, a precision kill - low collateral damage capability, was extensively demonstrated using the Hunter system.
To increase readiness and reduce the Soldier's logistics burden, Northrop Grumman developed a new suite of avionics for Hunter including upgraded mission computers, an auxiliary power distribution unit, new inertial navigation system and GPS units and an APX-118 IFF transponder. The avionics suite improves AV performance by reducing size, weight, and power consumption of the equipment used to control the aircraft and manage its critical subsystems.