UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
12 Oct 07. The Air Force announced that the service’s new hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle is now flying operational missions in Afghanistan. The MQ-9 Reaper has completed 12 missions since its inaugural flight there Sept. 25, averaging about one sortie per day. Capable of striking enemy targets with on-board weapons, the Reaper has conducted close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Operational use of Reaper’s advanced capabilities marks a tremendous step forward in the evolution of unmanned aerial systems. Air Force quality assurance evaluators gave a “thumbs up” to the aircraft’s debut performance and have been pleased with its operation ever since. “The Reaper is a significant evolution in capability for the Air Force,” said Air Force Chief of Staff T. Michael Moseley. “We’ve taken these aircraft from performing mainly as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms to carrying out true hunter-killer missions.” The Reaper is larger and more heavily-armed than the MQ-1 Predator and in addition to its traditional ISR capabilities, is designed to attack time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets. To date, Reaper operators have not been called upon to drop their weapons on enemy positions. Like the MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained at deployed locations, while being remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. That’s where the resemblance ends. The MQ-9 has nearly nine times the range, can fly twice as high and carries more munitions.
Oct 07. The Israel Air Force (IAF) wants to double the size of its UAV inventory, but budget realities are forcing new measures by which to calculate future force needs, the service’s top acquisition official said. Instead of focusing on a desired number of unmanned platforms, the IAF is designing its force according to capabilities that can be dedicated to specific operational theaters. Through acquisition of more reliable, longer-endurance, increasingly capable multi-role UAVs, the IAF expects to more than double its coverage of essential focal points — “mokdim” in Hebrew — without doubling its physical inventory. “Under less restrictive budgetary conditions, we’d like to double the quantity of our force,” the IAF general said. “But realistically, we need to work on multiple fronts and by innovative means to close capability gaps and enhance operational effectiveness.” (Source: Defense News)