The US Air Force has deployed the first General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to Afghanistan, marking the aircraft’s debut in combat operations.
The first of nine Reapers in the USAF inventory has flown 12 missions since 25 September but has so far not released any weapons from an on-wing arsenal that includes the Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire and laser-guided bombs.
The USAF announcement on 11 October says only that the aircraft has “conducted close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR] missions”, adding that the Reaper is “capable” of striking targets.
The Reaper’s first mission was graded satisfactorily by the USAF’s quality assurance evaluators, but not further details of the missions were offered.
General Atomics builds the MQ-9 and the R/MQ-1 series of ISR and strike aircraft for a variety of military,
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