The military’s march toward guerrilla war in the sky has taken another step forward with the Air Force placing a $371 million order for a new fleet of killer drones.
The contract with California-based General Atomics calls for delivery of 30 MQ-9 Reapers by the spring of 2019, according to the Air Force Times.
The Air Force describes the MQ-9 as a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) that “provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.”
In other words, when American video warriors want to take out an ISIS commander hustling down the highway in his SUV, they send in a MQ-9 Reaper.
The MQ-9 can be equipped with a laser-guided “smart” bomb such as the 510-pound GBU-12 Paveway II or employ four Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. It is larger and more lethal than the MQ-1 Predator, which is primarily used for surveillance, although the MQ-9 can also pull reconnaissance duty.
The Air Force Times also said that the service is expected to train more than 330 new RPA pilots this year. The drones are controlled from an air base in Nevada, but the Times said the Air Force is considering putting RPA-control wings at other bases.