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View Full Version : Air Force buys an Avenger, its biggest and fastest armed drone



Rockntractor
01-01-2012, 03:34 AM
By W.J. Hennigan

December 31, 2011
The Air Force has bought a new hunter-killer aircraft that is the fastest and largest armed drone in its fleet.

The Avenger, which cost the military $15 million, is the latest version of the Predator drones made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., a San Diego-area company that also builds the robotic MQ-9 Reapers for the Air Force and CIA.

The new radar-evading aircraft, also known as the Predator C, is General Atomics' third version of these drones. The Air Force picked up only one of them, strictly for testing purposes.

"There is no intention to deploy the aircraft in the war in Afghanistan at this time," said Pentagon spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy.

The Avenger represents a major technological advance over the other Predator and Reaper drones that the Obama administration has increasingly relied on to hunt and destroy targets in Central Asia and the Middle East, defense industry analysts said. It may be several months even years away from active duty, but the Avenger represents the wave of the future, said Phil Finnegan, an aerospace expert with the Teal Group, a research firm.

"As the U.S. looks at threats beyond Iraq and Afghanistan where it has complete air dominance it needs aircraft that are going to be stealthier and faster so they won't be shot down by enemy air defense," Finnegan said.

With a length of 44 feet and a maximum takeoff weight of 15,800 pounds, the Avenger can carry more weaponry than its predecessors.

The Reaper, for example, is 36 feet long and has a maximum takeoff weight of 10,500 pounds. The largest bombs it carries weigh 500 pounds and hang from its wings.

The Avenger, on the other hand, has an internal bomb bay like other modern fighter and bomber jets. It was designed to carry 2,000-pound bombs, as well as missiles, cameras and sensor packages.

Both the Reaper and Avenger have 66-foot wingspans and can reach a maximum altitude of about 50,000 feet.

The Reaper can stay aloft for 30 hours at a time - 10 hours longer than the Avenger. But with the power of a turbofan engine, the Avenger's top speed is about 460 mph, much faster than the propeller-driven Reaper's 276 mph.
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-stealth-drone-20111231,0,2148856.story

I wonder who Obama will gift this one too?:confused:

Starbuck
01-01-2012, 02:13 PM
20 to 30 hours aloft, depending on which model: 50,000 foot ceiling; big, smart bombs; stealth; this is serious stuff.

There is now some concern about the services requiring fully trained pilots at the controls in Nevada, or wherever. Many people feel that the pilots need to be trained, but in different way (they will never eject and have to survive), and the lack of pilots is a bottle neck in the system.

They'll figure it out, eventually.

SarasotaRepub
01-02-2012, 09:52 AM
They need a model to carry the MOAB. ;):D

Bailey
01-02-2012, 10:48 AM
They need a model to carry the MOAB. ;):D

And mounted giga watt lasers :D or particle beam weapons.

DumbAss Tanker
01-03-2012, 12:00 PM
The thing about UAV warfare is that it's really a pretty accessible technology, particularly in 'gray' wars where we can't blank the entire EM spectrum over an area. Currently we enjoy the uncontested air space and technology to employ what are effectively defenseless recon and bomber drones. Ultimately the technology to build defensive fighter drones to attack ours is easily within the grasp of the countries over which we fly them, I'm surprised the Russian or Chinese defense industries aren't already marketing them. A fighter drone could be smaller and therefore at least as stealthy than an attack drone, really needn't be anything more than a recon drone's sensor suite and a rifle-caliber imachine guns with a couple of hundred rounds.

I.e., we're enjoying a period of uncontested dominance that can't last forever.

Starbuck
01-03-2012, 12:09 PM
I'm betting there are very good reasons the Russians and Chinese aren't using them much. There is the expense, which is huge, and then there is accessibility. If we weren't in Afghanistan then we wouldn't have assess to Iran and Pakistan. Then again, if we weren't in Afghanistan perhaps we wouldn't need access to Iran. Who knows?

At any rate, I can see in the future where stealth drones will be launched from aircraft carriers and that will provide access to wherever we need.

Most stealth equipment can actually be detected if the right radar is used, so there are non-stealth drones out there who pretend to be bombers and will direct attention away from the teeny, tiny blip that is actually a B-2. I'm waiting for the drone who can turn it's stealth features on and off.:)

DumbAss Tanker
01-03-2012, 12:32 PM
I'm betting there are very good reasons the Russians and Chinese aren't using them much. There is the expense, which is huge, and then there is accessibility. If we weren't in Afghanistan then we wouldn't have assess to Iran and Pakistan. Then again, if we weren't in Afghanistan perhaps we wouldn't need access to Iran. Who knows?

At any rate, I can see in the future where stealth drones will be launched from aircraft carriers and that will provide access to wherever we need.

Most stealth equipment can actually be detected if the right radar is used, so there are non-stealth drones out there who pretend to be bombers and will direct attention away from the teeny, tiny blip that is actually a B-2. I'm waiting for the drone who can turn it's stealth features on and off.:)


Oh, looking like something else is an old trick, really...back in the B52 manned strategic bomber days when even I was a pup, the Buffs packed a couple of Quail missiles on their wing stations, which would project the radar image of a B52 to the SAMs.

Defensive drones would be vastly cheaper than manned aircraft and couldn't be taken out by long-range AAMs from distant ships or carrier aircraft, but they would be beyond the means of countries like Yemen...not so for Iran.