The MQ-5B Hunter is an unmanned aircraft used for surveillance, reconnaissance, battle damage assessment, and identification of enemy targets. The medium altitude MQ-5B is based on the RQ-5A Hunter, which Northrop Grumman built for the U.S. Army in 1996. The newer generation Hunter can be operated by enlisted soldiers and minimal maintenance is required of the aircraft.
The MQ-5B Hunter transmits video imaging of mission targets to monitoring units, which then forward that information to battle commanders. It can also send that information directly to commanders or ground soldiers. The MQ-5B Hunter does this through the use of its onboard infrared sensors.
After reporting enemy target locations and receiving permission to attack, the MQ-5B can fire its own weapons and laser guide them to the target and it can also assess damage to the target, reporting that information back to ground commanders.
The avionics suite that the MQ-5B Hunter relies on are the most advanced in the U.S. military. It allows the airplane to be programmed for automatic takeoff and landing. One of its most unusual features is that the MQ-5B Hunter can control another Hunter over ground obstacles or extreme distances.
As part of the U.S. Army’s quest to use only one type of fuel for its engine powered equipment, which it calls the “Military Single Fuel Forward Logistics”, the MQ-5B Hunter was designed to use JP-8 heavy fuel. Despite some of the disadvantages of heavy fuel, one of which can be less power, Northrop Grumman claims that the heavy fuel engine permits the MQ-5B Hunter to climb faster and maintain high altitudes.
Maximum GTOW: 1,950 plus lbs
Power Plant: Heavy Fuel Engine (“HFE”)
Maximum External Payload Per Wing: 130 lbs
Maximum Payload (including fuel): 500 lbs
Loiter Velocity: 60-80 knots
Maximum Velocity: 120 knots TAS
Maximum Altitude: Up to 22,000′
Endurance: 21 Hours