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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 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.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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