Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Air Force to deploy the "Reapers"

I'm an airplane buff. I dig going to air shows. I love going to the various museums around the country to see some of the most sophisticated firepower, for their time, that has ever been created. Now, the Air Force is about to deploy the nastiest little plane that has no pilot on board. It's the MQ-9 "Reaper." It's a hunter-killer drone that is just dag-nasty to our enemy. Bryan at Hot Air picks up the story from Air Force Times:

The Air Force next month will deploy a new generation of pilotless airplane with the bombing power of an F-16 to help stop the stubborn Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The Reaper is an upgraded version of the Predator, which has become one of the military’s most sought-after planes since it first appeared in Afghanistan in 2001. The Reaper can fly three times as fast as a Predator and carry eight times more weaponry, such as Hellfire missiles, the Air Force said.

The Reaper’s greater range and speed make it better suited than the Predator to Afghanistan’s vast, rugged terrain. The Reaper will also be deployed to Iraq. Its speed and arms will let it track and kill moving targets able to elude a Predator, said Brig. Gen. James Poss, director of intelligence for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Air Force officials cite the June 2006 killing of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was tracked by a Predator but ultimately killed by bombs dropped by an F-16. The Reaper “is ideal for that type of target,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Christ, director of staff at Creech.

Despite the Predator’s success, field commanders wanted a faster, more lethal alternative, said Col. Charles Bartlett, leader of the Air Force’s unmanned aircraft task force.

Such demand has prompted the Air Force to rush to train operators and crews. In 2003, the Air Force trained fewer than 40 Predator operators. In 2008, that will soar to 160. It has trained 10 Reaper operators this year, and expects to train 19 more in 2008.

The Reaper squadron will start small and has only four aircraft, said Maj. David Small, an Air Force spokesman. It ultimately will have 20 planes, he said.

Most Reapers, like Predators, are flown from bases in the U.S., such as Creech.

The Reaper carries about the same payload as the F-16 but can stay aloft as much as eight times longer than the F-16, which must refuel about every two hours.

“You’ve got a lot of ammo circling overhead on call for short-notice strikes,” said John Pike, director of the military think tank, Globalsecurity. “It seems like a good idea.”

Given that the Taliban isn't doing so hot against our forces in Afghanistan the Reaper is going to rock their world. When this thing is deployed next month, I'm wondering if the Taliban will have problems recruiting people, or deploying their own forces out of fear of death from above.

Publius II


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