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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 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.

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