A new Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC) system, scheduled to be incorporated into Air Force Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) aircraft beginning in 2010, will allow for real-time detection of problems with the system via an electronic relay, according to industry representatives.

Honeywell [HON] has been involved in development of several Reaper components, including the TPE331-10 turboprop engine, Vicki Panhuise, vice president of Commercial and Military Helicopters for Honeywell Aerospace, said during a brief July 1 telephone interview.

The TPE331-10 will soon feature improved power management and increased loiter time from the DEEC. It will also accommodate increasing electrical load requirements up to 45kVA with an integrated high capacity starter-generator, Panhuise explained.

She said the Air Force is expected to complete certification of the upgrade next year. Pending that move, it would be cut into production in 2010, she added.

The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)-built Reaper, also known as Predator B, became operational last year and is currently deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Tom Moody, president of GA-ASI’s aircraft systems group.

“The Royal Air Force is flying the aircraft, and the Italian Air Force is also looking to purchase five in 2008,” Moody said in a separate interview.

The Reaper was designed as a long-endurance, high-altitude UAV for use as a multi-mission system for a variety of government and military customers, including the Air Force, Navy, Homeland Security Department and NASA. The system is used for reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and weapons delivery, as well as scientific research and other civilian applications.

Moody noted that the system has been used in U.S. border-control operations in both land and maritime capacities.