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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 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.


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