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Next-generation Avenger   (Source: U.S. Air Force)
Next-generation drone will be used in Iraq and Afghanistan

The possible successor of the U.S. Air Force's MQ-9 Reaper recently made three official flights during testing.  General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the same company that developed the Reaper and MQ-1 Predator, is responsible for developing the Predator C Avenger unmanned aerial vehicle.

The next-generation unmanned aerial vehicle is 41 ft. long and has a 66-foot wingspan, which is slightly bigger than the 36 ft. long Reaper.  Most notably, Avenger is jet-powered, allowing it to travel more than twice the speed of Reaper -- Avenger has flown as fast as 460 mph, while Reaper's top speed is 230 m.p.h.

Similar to Reaper, Avenger has been designed to carry 500-pound live bombs with GPS navigation and laser guidance kits utilized.  Up to 3,000 pounds of weapons and other technology can be carried on the craft.

"Following in the footsteps of the proven Predator B, Avenger adds yet another flexible and multi-mission capability to the Predator UAS series and is a testament to GA-ASI's continuing practice of developing and delivering proven unmanned aircraft to military customers," according to a General Atomics executive.

The Air Force and General Atomics haven't signed an official contract for the development of the Avenger, but it seems rather unlikely the new drone won't be incorporated into the A.F. fleet at some point in the near future.  General Atomics built both the Reaper and Predator without signed agreements from the U.S. government.

Drones have become increasingly important in Iraq and Afghanistan, as they are both cheaper and safer to go on attack and reconnaissance missions.  Furthermore, drones such as Predator are used to help create "patterns-of-life analysis" footage to help monitor individual Iraqis and Afghans who may launch attacks from crowds of civilians.



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A slow march to somewhere
By Mojo the Monkey on 4/29/2009 12:58:43 PM , Rating: 5
Well, I suppose its inevitable and nothing is going to stop it, but the idea of a completely mechanized battlefield doesn't sit right with me. I find something comforting in the idea that we used to have to risk life to take life.

I'm not for our soldier's dying, or anything. I just think that the ramifications of having your own troops killed keeps things in perspective.




RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Mojo the Monkey on 4/29/2009 12:59:54 PM , Rating: 3
More on topic: Any word on whether this thing was designed with stealth capability?


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By ikkeman on 4/29/2009 1:07:03 PM , Rating: 5
... yes.

try looking at teh picture - the recessed engine, the wing and empennage angled equally... that's stealth design.


By therealnickdanger on 4/29/2009 2:40:17 PM , Rating: 2
Well duh, I could have just looked at teh camo-paint and told you that.

I'm so kidding.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By jonmcc33 on 4/29/2009 4:37:31 PM , Rating: 3
Not stealth when you add external weapons on hardpoints. That will give off massive radar reflection.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By UNCjigga on 4/29/2009 5:26:24 PM , Rating: 3
Don't have a source or link, but I believe I read somewhere that the Avenger stores all ordinance and payloads internally. Notice the large bulge ahead of the tail.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By UNCjigga on 4/29/2009 5:27:01 PM , Rating: 2
nm...that's the engine!


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By MadMan007 on 4/29/2009 11:42:58 PM , Rating: 4
Is that your weapons payload or are you just happy to see me?


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By psychmike on 4/29/2009 6:37:26 PM , Rating: 2
This UCAV does have internal weapons carriage.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By SpaceJumper on 4/29/2009 9:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
Stealth planes are detectable through earth magnetic field interferences from the ground sensor while the stealth plane is in the air. China has such a capability. After the target is detected, multiple rockets will be fired to search for the target.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Samus on 4/30/2009 3:13:11 AM , Rating: 2
Only our military has rockets that can correctly lock onto a 'cold' target as demonstrated when we took our dead 'spy' satellite safely out of orbit.

The Chinese were pretty unsuccessful at such a task with their targeting technology when they blasted one of their satellites into thousands of pieces in orbit because the rocket hit the wrong end of the target, blasting toward space instead of toward our atmosphere. Alas, it hit the target, but barely, and they had weeks to research a launch pattern to do it.

Using technology they do have that is proven to work (heat seeking) the rockets still need to detect a heat signature. This thing might be light enough to momentarily shut the engine down before stalling.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By SpaceJumper on 4/30/2009 7:19:48 AM , Rating: 2
Stealth planes are not cold when seeing a few miles away. It still leaving a hot trail of hot gas and the exhaust is still the hottest. Magnetic field interference detection is actually the cold target detection.
China shot down one of their own satellite because majority of the US spy satellites are currently eyeing on China.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By 91TTZ on 4/30/2009 9:10:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
he Chinese were pretty unsuccessful at such a task with their targeting technology when they blasted one of their satellites into thousands of pieces in orbit because the rocket hit the wrong end of the target, blasting toward space instead of toward our atmosphere.


Is this a joke?

That wasn't what happened AT ALL. The satellite they shot down was in a much higher orbit than the one we shot down, that alone is responsible for the debris from our satellite falling back to earth sooner.

Also, shooting down a satellite isn't very difficult. They fly in very steady, predictable orbits and their location can be easily predicted. Autonomous capsules and supply ships have been docking with space stations for decades. The Soviets had automated craft since 1967. They also tested anti-satellite weapons in the 70's, and we tested ours in the 80's.

Most anti-satellite missiles used radar instead of thermal detection.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Avitar on 4/30/2009 4:31:34 PM , Rating: 2
There are very few tech savy militaries that could field such a system and China can field it over only a small percentage of its territory. Submarines have been magnetically detectable for decades but the Russians dropped their antimagnetic submarine program because nobody was fielding a system.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By MrBungle123 on 4/29/2009 1:17:02 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Well, I suppose its inevitable and nothing is going to stop it, but the idea of a completely mechanized battlefield doesn't sit right with me. I find something comforting in the idea that we used to have to risk life to take life.


I think its great. One of our greatest generals said it best:

quote:
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” -George S. Patton


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Nfarce on 4/29/2009 2:01:44 PM , Rating: 3
One of the best quotes in all the history of mankind and warfare. Patton had quite a few of them, actually.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Reclaimer77 on 4/29/2009 2:34:46 PM , Rating: 5
Great quotes taken out of context don't mean exactly what the speaker intended.

What the OP was talking about was the eventual conclusion that a total mechanized war machine will completely desensitize the users. And cause a complete lack of respect of the forces he/she is unleashing on the enemy.

He already said he didn't want our people dying. So why you even used the Patton quote, I don't know. The OP isn't even talking about losses. He's talking about risk vs. reward. If all we end up risking are automated machines and mindless hunks of metal then we could possibly fail to objectively weigh the morality and consequences of our decisions.

Now I personally believe a total mechanized military is a fantasy. But that's where the OP was going.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By therealnickdanger on 4/29/2009 2:58:50 PM , Rating: 4
Who says war should be "sensitive"? The point of war is that you so quickly and completely crush and demoralize your enemy that they don't even want to fight, thus saving more lives. More lives on your side, hopefully, so that you can pursue your agenda over that of the aggressor. "Peace through superior firepower", I believe it's called. It isn't nice and it sure as f*ck ain't pretty... it's WAR.

I don't think we'll have a fully mechanized military either, but if we did, I would see it as an even greater benefit to peace. Why would you pick a fight with a country that will suffer NO losses in battle?

What will be really humorous though is in the future when everyone has robots fighting for them... You lose when you can't spawn more units.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Myg on 4/29/2009 3:05:45 PM , Rating: 1
Pretty dangerous train of thought there: "now approaching insanity-ville station, please mind the gap"

In a perfect world; where everyone was perfect and lived clean and squeaky clean lives, it would work well. Shame about that... For the rest of the world, its like how laws are needed to fill the gaps of forgotten/discarded moral guidelines; if there is no ramification for doing something wrong, then people will just learn to do it without thinking. Such as waging war at any whim because they can justify it with any garbage excuse.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By nafhan on 4/29/2009 4:11:46 PM , Rating: 1
Whether you like it or not, the point of war IS to get things done as quickly as possible.

Compare and contrast trench warfare during WWI to mechanized war during WWII. Compare carpet bombing to precision laser guided bombs. I could go on. Advances in tactical warfare have continually brought less pain to the soldiers and civilians in the war zone.

As for the morality of completely mechanized warfare... the people who have the ability to wage that kind of war probably appreciate it, and the people who don't... probably don't. History and morals are decided by the winner. That's just how it is.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Myg on 4/29/2009 4:47:30 PM , Rating: 3
Less pain to the point of almost no-one suffering from the attackers side is the problem. Thats just the way it is with human nature, like it or not; If we continue down this road too fast, we may find ourselves worse off then many of History's great villians in the books of the future.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Avitar on 4/30/2009 4:44:22 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, we will. The US does not punish writers who attack us. This may not be sane but every few years the Japanese will come out with a textbook that includes how terrible it is that the Noble Japanese solders' behavior is not viewed as admirable. It is always the Chinese who raise objection and never the US State Department. Pointing out that the alternative to the nuclear attacks was an invasion that might have killed 15 million Japanese is also overlooked when Truman's decision is discussed. War is hell and there are reasons for going to hell.

What thought process do you think the Saudis went through when tolerating Al Qaida before 9/11?


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 4/29/2009 3:39:00 PM , Rating: 2
Check out the documentary "Fog of War". See if your beliefs fit in with the lessons of WWII, Korean, and Vietnam war.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-865378886...


By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 4/29/2009 7:29:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying you're wrong. But I hope you aren't ever in a position to decide to go to war or not. On the other hand I'd want you to be my general if we did. :-)


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By kerpwnt on 4/29/2009 4:25:22 PM , Rating: 1
Without surrender as an option, guerrilla warfare was the logical response to a more powerful army. What is the logical response to an unmanned robot army? I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I bet it looks a lot like terrorism.

quote:
Why would you pick a fight with a country that will suffer NO losses in battle?

That question can be answered with a shorter version of itself. Why would you pick a fight with a country? Some people can always find a reason.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Jackattak on 4/29/2009 4:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why would you pick a fight with a country?


Beautifully put.

And in response to this:

quote:
What is the logical response to an unmanned robot army?


EMP weapons. They aren't very expensive nor are they difficult to manufacture.


By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 4/29/2009 6:52:19 PM , Rating: 2
And the best EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) weapon there is?

drum roll...

It's Da-bomb. The N-word. Fusion explosions.

It's only logical and rational to want that weapon if you want to feel safe from countries who fight pre-emptive electronic warfare.

Of course logic and ration often lead to irrational results. Castro wanted Russia to launch the nukes in Cuba towards the United States if we attacked him during the Cuban missile crisis.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By FITCamaro on 4/30/2009 7:10:16 AM , Rating: 3
Assuming said robotic weaponry isn't shielded from EMP.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Schrag4 on 4/29/2009 5:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What will be really humorous though is in the future when everyone has robots fighting for them...


Somewhere around 20 years ago there was a movie that this comment reminded me of. Each country would build a massive single robot that would fight another country's robot to settle disputes. The fight was even a spectator sport, more or less (I was in junior high or even grade school so my recollection is fuzzy).

Anyone else remember it? What was it called?


By Mojo the Monkey on 4/29/2009 5:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I saw this too! ROBOT JOX

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUxDmKFCD2o


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Legolias24 on 4/29/2009 5:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
I believe you are referring to the movie Robojocks (sp.).


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By FITCamaro on 4/30/2009 7:09:25 AM , Rating: 2
Nick Danger. The Patton of 2009.

"We're going to go through them like crap through a goose!"


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By ThePooBurner on 4/30/2009 11:33:02 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
I don't think we'll have a fully mechanized military either, but if we did, I would see it as an even greater benefit to peace. Why would you pick a fight with a country that will suffer NO losses in battle?

What will be really humorous though is in the future when everyone has robots fighting for them... You lose when you can't spawn more units.

You must construct additional pylons!


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Ryanman on 4/30/2009 8:57:37 AM , Rating: 2
While the OP's point was valid, you also didn't understand what the previous poster meant. While the desensitization of war in inevitable, the whole IDEA of war is to cause more casualties than inflicted on your own force. A truly robotic army would fulfill this in a perfect fashion.

Is it Right? No, I don't think so. An army without risk is an army without morals. But don't assume the poster didn't understand - he was just making a point.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By UrOwnHubris on 4/30/2009 6:04:10 PM , Rating: 2
Bear in mind I say what I am about to say purely to offer another take on the issue (i.e. NOT a rebuke of anyone's opinion) Patton was a lot of things, good and bad. However among these I believe (just me mind you) he was one of the 20th century's greatest embodiments of the classical warrior ethos. War propagated and prosecuted via machine would have been an anathema to him. Imagine a war without blood sacrifice, without risk, without heroes and Patton could have nothing to do with it. With this said I agree with you in part. The removal of some risk is an achievement. However at the end of the day I give professional deference to General Robert E. Lee who said, "It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it."


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Iketh on 4/29/2009 1:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
if a mechanized front fails, you are next in line...


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By MozeeToby on 4/29/2009 1:48:43 PM , Rating: 3
There's not been much risk in air strikes for the US since the Vietnam War. If anything, this thing replaces cruise missiles and perhaps stealth bombers (though I doubt that it will replace manned missions for high importance targets).

I know what you're saying though, it is a step towards developed countries being able to go to war with little to no public outcry. On the other hand, a mechanized force has the potential to reduce civilian casualties, since the soldiers will be less jumpy when their life isn't on the line.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By m0mentary on 4/29/2009 2:03:20 PM , Rating: 2
I don't like the idea, but from a strategic standpoint it makes sense. Winning wars is about having the advantage and using it.

As an added bonus, it sends a message that unless you can afford this technology (that we probably won't sell "officially" to our enemies) you might want to think twice about what you stand to lose.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Suntan on 4/29/2009 2:59:42 PM , Rating: 1
This argument always amuses me.

For at least the last 50 years we have had the ability to fight all encounters without setting boots on soil in any theater. Yet we haven’t been endlessly conquering and leveling landmasses.

On the other hand, some of the most war-hungry civilizations in the history of man only had hand to hand weapons. Heck the Spartans thought that shooting arrows from a distance was an act of cowardice yet they would go to war with you if they didn’t like the color of your sandels. Their mother’s parting words to them as they marched off to battle were, “Return home holding your shield, or carried in it.” Meaning that they should either come home victorious or come home dead.

Sorry, man’s desire to take another life is separate from their desire to protect their loved ones. Both are more dependant on the mores and social rules of the society they are a part of than they are dependant on each other.

-Suntan


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Myg on 4/29/2009 3:10:16 PM , Rating: 1
"For at least the last 50 years we have had the ability to fight all encounters without setting boots on soil in any theater"

How is that logistically/tactically/strategically possible?


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Jackattak on 4/29/2009 3:40:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How is that logistically/tactically/strategically possible?


Bombs.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Myg on 4/29/2009 4:49:21 PM , Rating: 1
It isn't possible with bombs, not even with nuclear bombs.

Think about it for a second.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 4/29/2009 4:07:24 PM , Rating: 4
Well if we took the kid gloves off, you could win a war by simply annihilating the opposition. I know it doesn't seem like reality and all, but we could *gasp* level the oposing country, civilian's be damned.

Let's get serious for a moment. War requires 2 oposing factions. If Faction A completely levels Faction B, then Faction B ceases to exist and thus the war ends. We could nuke/bomb/neutron/napalm/etc... the entire country/town/area/island, etc... and there, problem solved without any boots in the theatre.

I know it's not likely to happen due to politics and generally accepted rules of war, but its not impossible and easily doable if we decide that the rules are meant to be broken.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Myg on 4/29/2009 4:52:37 PM , Rating: 1
It just isnt possible, despite whatever fantasies you have of the greatness of the United states war machine.

There is no way any national fighting force can completely destroy an opposing force without actually having a ground force.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Pneumothorax on 4/29/2009 6:15:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think what Kenobi was alluding to is unrestricted nuking of another country, casualties be damned. If we just completely nuked Iraq/Afghanistan there really wouldn't be an "insurgence" as all human life (hopefully including Osama's) in those countries would be essentially wiped out. Problem is dealing with other countries afterwards

BTW we do have enough MIRV's to easily nuke both countries.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 4/29/2009 6:20:52 PM , Rating: 3
Bingo. If you utterly annihilate the oposing country, then there isn't an insurgency, or any area to "pacify", its just a smoking/glowing crater. Nukes are not necessary, as conventional bombs could do the job as well, but Nukes tend to be the best weapon here once you factor in things like MIRV and yield.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Jargo on 4/30/2009 5:08:20 AM , Rating: 1
Its simply not cost-effective to handle it that way.

I dont mind the anhilation part but what about the guys you dont get? Those guys will certainly try to get even and you have no idea from where they will be striking.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Fnoob on 4/30/2009 9:53:12 AM , Rating: 2
Hard to get even when you're dead.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Suntan on 5/5/2009 3:35:20 PM , Rating: 2
If me history is correct, it would seem that Japan circa 1945 would contradict your comments. Yes, America had casualties in that war, and yes there were many other contributing factors that may have influenced an unconditional surrender (not the least being the argument that Russia was about to declare war on Japan) however the facts play out that Japan had no intention of surrendering until after Fat Man and Little Boy.

After those events, Japan agreed to unconditional surrender without allied troops setting foot on the mainland.

-Suntan


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By ggordonliddy on 4/29/09, Rating: 0
RE: A slow march to somewhere
By BruceLeet on 4/29/2009 3:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget who the U.S. is using these UAVs against, they are not using it against a country with an airforce. The people its being used against can't shoot these things down.

Any airforce can shoot these things down. Until there's an "E.D.I - UCAV" as I'm sure is what you were thinking about when you posted then you can be worried.

I'm sure there will never be a 'mechanized battlefield', at least in our lifetime. And if there ever will be which I doubt, we'll all be long gone before then with no worries.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By FPP on 4/29/2009 4:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
Correct. People read this ans conclude that UACV's are on par with manned planes, when they are really far more vulnerable by any developed nation. The secure satellite links required could be compromised and any credible air force could severely hamper their use. Nonetheless, these will morph, over time, into formidable weapons and the cheaper they get, the more they will proliferate.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By elgoliath on 4/30/2009 4:45:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'd say they are better than manned airplanes to a point. A manned plane is in part a hindrance due to the fact it has a person onboard and is thus limited in what it can do in regards to aerobatics and it has to compensate for the weight/mass of the pilot, his gear and controls.

An unmanned plane has no such limitations.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By FPP on 5/1/2009 5:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, until you reach a tech-savvy enemy who will jam it's satellite links, and compromise it's sensors. This is what the Chinese are spending their defense dollars on i.e. ASAT weapons, space interdiction, all in an effort to whack our command and control cpability.

Manned planes have a person who can improvise and adapt and have fewer limitations when sensor tech goes awry. They can bring the vehicle back along with the lesson and further adapt.

That being the case, I'd suggest you need both.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By phxfreddy on 4/29/2009 7:49:00 PM , Rating: 3
As George Patton said in order to win a war the object is to make the OTHER poor dumb bastard lose his life.

So I say ....just fine...let the other team risk the lives of their guys

while we sit Wild Kingdom stype with Marlon Perkins sipping martinis and watching Jim wrestle the alligators.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By rippleyaliens on 4/29/2009 9:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
Once again, the arm chair warriors comments sound good on paper, yet in reality sound like qqq ing.
Having a jet powered uav= time on target 2x as fast. PEOPLE REMEMBER THIS.. the airforce, just doesnt launch 1 of these.. they launch GROUPS of these. INTEL INTEL INTEL, is the #1 mission of these things. Being armed= ability to take out targets then and there.
The jet powered uav will still have a loiter time >6 hrs, AS a jet fighter has a loiter time of 2-3 hrs-MAX!!!. I rather have 3x uav's over civilians patrolling, versus 1 fighter jet. Good intel easily beats bad intel.

ALSO and once again, people fail to think, FOR every UAV that goes up, there is a pilot and a weapons officer. This isn't a video game.. Pilot+weapon officer, These things aren't setup to fire and forget solo, there is always a person behind the scenes. a 100% automated war instrument, with such capability, is not available, nor will be within the next 10 years. All these devices are just extensions of a war fighters arsenal. The GOAL of any War, is to WIN it. WE owe it to our troops to allow them to come home. This isnt veitnam, with carpet bombings,, this isn't Korea (ugg), this isnt WWII, in which 100's of bombers were sent in just to destroy a few plants. This is 2009, we have the technology, to do this. Having higher performance war vehicles= 1. Less collateral damage, 2. Less Friendly deaths (IE our own troops), 3, Better intel, 4, We arent hitting a fly with a sledge hammer.

I forsee in the future, remote controlled tanks/armored vehicles as well.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By Spacecomber on 4/30/2009 1:00:56 AM , Rating: 3
The recent book, Wired for War, touches on this same issue. In some sense, there is a blurring of the distinction between being a civilian and being a soldier when wars are increasingly fought remotely. The "pilots" of many of these larger UAVs are based in Nevada (I believe), for example. They put in their shifts and then go home to their families in the suburbs.

Although we often think that our increasing use of UAVs and other robotic vehicles will effectively impress upon our enemies our superiority and demoralize them, there is some indication that it is having the opposite effect. Those who are use to fighting in the streets tend to see Americans as cowards who will only fight in circumstances in which they are not at any real risk. They believe that you only need to inflict a few American casualties in order to get the US to give up and retreat.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I agree with the original poster's sentiment that the nature of warfare and how we see ourselves militarily (as well as how others see us) is changing and in ways that aren't necessarily obvious.


RE: A slow march to somewhere
By jconan on 5/6/2009 3:22:50 AM , Rating: 2
if the air force is working on unmanned aerial vehicles they probably will be working on a.i. to manage aerial vehicles hypothetically skynet or that could be darpa...


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