Thursday, December 15, 2011
The US Air Force reportedly plans to deploy a new offensive, radar-evading drone in Afghanistan after Iran downed one of its stealth drones, which was in violation of the Islamic Republic's airspace.
The Predator C Avenger is designed to evade detection and carry payloads of the weight of a bunker buster, the international aerospace weekly Flight International reported on its website on December 12.
The US Air Force has ordered a single Predator C Avenger -- produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Inc. -- for deployment in Afghanistan.
"This aircraft will be used as a test asset and will provide a significantly increased weapons and sensors payload capacity on an aircraft that will be able to fly to targets much more rapidly than the MQ-9 [Reaper] UAS," the US Air Force said in a statement.
Alongside four weapon stations on each wing, the drone has an internal weapons bay, which provides “greater flexibility and will accommodate a large selection of next generation sensor and weapons payloads," it added.
The newest aircraft is jet-powered and particularly characterized by its capability of carrying a total payload of more than 907 kilograms -- almost the weight of a GBU-24 penetrator bunker buster bomb.
Analysts say the fact that Taliban militants have no radars to detect such aircraft robs Washington of excuses to deploy the stealth drone in the war-torn country.
The prospect of the deployment of the highly-capable Predator C comes after Iran successfully brought down a US RQ-170 stealth drone recently as the aircraft was flying over the northeastern Iranian city of Kashmar, some 250 kilometers (156 miles) away from the Afghan border.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 6:06 AM