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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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Sweet Deal!
By Jackattak on 4/29/2009 1:59:53 PM , Rating: 5
As an ex-recon operative coming from Armored Cav, I can tell you that one of these babies loaded with a Hellfire will cause huge problems for enemy tanks. I'd delight with the chance to be able to call one of these in on a T-90 from a mile away.

Not that it would help in Iraq or Afghanistan, but still cool to know that the tech is there. When I got out in '03 I had only witnessed two Predator flyovers. I'm happy to see the tech progress so rapidly.

These things save many, many allied lives and those of the innocent non-combatants whose countries have run amok.

RE: Sweet Deal!
By cathodeflux on 4/29/2009 3:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
My younger brother just returned from tour in Afghanistan with the Canadian PPCLI (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry). They apparently work quite a bit with the Americans utilizing the MQ-9 Reapers. A well placed Hellfire is an effective way to deal with insurgents. The only difficulty he said they have is the insurgents can hear them approaching from miles away, they would then run into a village and grab the nearest civilian to use as a human shield.

RE: Sweet Deal!
By Jackattak on 4/29/2009 3:47:30 PM , Rating: 3
I hadn't realized that Hellfires were used against ground troops, as they're anti-tank/anti-vehicle weapons. Wouldn't want to be around the business-end of one either way, though.

Good info, thanks for sharing.

One more note, I see a lot of people here talking about war. I sure hope some of those people have actually witnessed it before sharing their opinions as if they're the word of some god. Not saying we aren't all entitled to our opinions...we most certainly are.

I'm just saying that having an opinion about something you've witnessed and having an opinion about something you've read are two completely different animals.

RE: Sweet Deal!
By SpaceJumper on 4/29/2009 9:22:01 PM , Rating: 2
UAV is not good at dog fighting. The enemy with an air craft would shoot down the UAV.

RE: Sweet Deal!
By Jedi2155 on 4/29/2009 9:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, but he was talking about ground armor versus an air to air dogfight. Case in point, there has been a number of UAV shootdowns, including this amazing footage of a Russian Mig-29 shooting down a Georgian (Isaraeli built) UAV

RE: Sweet Deal!
By Jackattak on 4/30/2009 11:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
Who said anything about dogfighting? I merely mentioned one of these firing a Hellfire (Air/Surface-to-Surface missile) at a tank (which is on the ground).

RE: Sweet Deal!
By CascadingDarkness on 4/30/2009 12:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think your initial post was just too descriptive, and specific. You need to dumb it down for everyone on the internets to get it.

Who would actually be interested enough to google T-90 to know it's a Russian main battle tank? Or firing a hellfire might be referencing laser guided AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

Sarcasm aside I found your post to be perfect in article's context, but I'm interested, and have basic knowledge in such things.

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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