WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – With the pending American withdrawal from Afghanistan, military planners foresee an increased use in unmanned aerial vehicles.
But most American drones lack the range to track Taliban forces into the rugged and mountainous terrain of most of the region.
Gizmodo UK reports a new generation of jet-propelled Predator drones are ready to take on a bigger role in the region.
The General Atomics Avenger can roam up to 1,800 miles away from bases, hitting an estimated top speed of 500 mph. It should be able to climb to 50,000 feet and operate for up to 18 hours at a time.
Unlike previous generations of drones, the Avenger uses a turbofan engine rather than a conventional turboprop.
It’s also larger, with a 66-foot wingspan that provides more rooms for weapons or additional fuel.
It will carry a deadly payload of Paveway II laser-guided bombs, Hellfire II A-G missiles, Sidewinder A-A missiles, and JDAMs.
The Avenger’s improvements should provide enough range to allow it to monitor the volatile and remote regions of Pakistan without putting troops.
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