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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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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
How is that logistically/tactically/strategically possible?


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 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 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.


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