Pneumatic Bomb Racks for the Reaper

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Exelis BRU-71/A implements a pneumatic release system to carry and drop a single load up to 1000 lbs in weight. Photo: Exelis
Exelis BRU-71/A implements a pneumatic release system providing a lightweight and efficient weapon carriage. Each BRU-71/A carries a single load of up to 1000 lbs in weight. Photo: Exelis

Exelis is producing improved stores ejector rack for the Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) under a $20.6 million contract awarded by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. This award is the second BRU-71/A (Bomb Rack Unit) follow-on production contract for Exelis. The first, for 208 units, was received in February 2011. Under the contract, Exelis will deliver 500 units beginning November 2013 through June 2015.

The BRU-71/A delivers an advanced, high-performance airborne carriage and release capability,” said Pete Martin, director of defense systems for the Exelis electronic attack and release systems business area. “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.”

The BRU-71/A is a newly developed 14-inch pneumatic bomb rack recently qualified for use on the MQ-9 Reaper. At a weight of 19.4 pounds (8.8 kg) the BRU-71/A carries loads up to 1000 lbs (453 kg) in weight. The pneumatic operation offers users significant benefits over previous generation bomb racks. These include ease of loading via independent, self-latching hooks, pneumatic operation eliminating the need for pyrotechnic impulse cartridges and the resultant cleaning/maintenance actions required after weapon release, zero retention force arming units, and a high reliability pneumatic in-flight lock.

The BRU-71/A is a pneumatic carriage and release system employing compressed air instead of electro-explosive charges to deploy payloads. This technology reduces overall system maintenance and lifecycle costs. According to Excelis, the rack is adaptable to a number of aircraft. The company has also developed a lighter rack variant called Specter, which can also carry stores up to 1000 lbs mass class. The crutching system can accommodate store diameters down to six inches therefore facilitating carriage of emerging 250 lb (113 kg) class weapons such as GBU-39 and AASM-125. Specter weighs only 14 pounds (6.4 kg), including the gas cartridge, twin arming units and store-on-station sensor. This new ejector is designed as a direct replacement for MAU-46, commonly used in Triple Ejector Racks (TER). It is ideally suited to training, transport, helicopter and unmanned air platforms and fast jet multiple store carriage systems.

The BRU-71/A bomb rack upgrade is part of a comprehensive enhancement of the MQ-9 known as ‘Block 5’. The upgrade package includes the incorporation of improved main landing gear, an upgraded electrical system with more power, an additional ARC-210 radio, encrypted datalinks, redesigned avionics bay and digital electronic engine control system, high-definition video support, and upgraded software. A Block 5 Reaper is expected to enter flight testing in 2014.

The Genera Atomics MQ-9 Reaper will receive the RBU-71A advanced weapon carrying racks as part of the Block 5 future upgrade for the RPA
The Genera Atomics MQ-9 Reaper will receive the RBU-71A advanced weapon carrying racks as part of the Block 5 future upgrade for the RPA