The United States Air Force recently recorded a first. In a recent experiment featuring multiple. Unmanned aerial vehicles, the Air Force claimed the world’s first successful air-to-air kill. An MQ-9 Reaper dronewas successful in taking down another unspecified aerial vehicle, a movement which will serve immediate and lasting implications for the unmanned aerial industry, both for civilian and military purposes.
The test was completed last year, but details are only now being released to the public. The success demonstrates a now proven capacity to expedite unmanned aerial operations for weaponized capacities, something the Air Force has focused on in recent years. A years-long project reached the optimal conclusion, opening the door for subsequent military opportunities, and even the eventual implementation on a wide scale of unmanned aerial prowess.
The MQ-9 Reaper drone itself is characterized by an extensive payload and renowned maneuverability. Capable of delivering a payload of 3,750 pounds, a collection of 114 Hellfire missiles and Joint Direct.
Attack materials, it serves as a formidable, if unmanned, force in modern Air Force capabilities. The payload is also a flexible one, meaning that its carrying capacity and the materials it can carry depend on individual settings and situations.
The Air Force has publicly sought to complement manned aerial assault vehicles with capable, unmanned allies. Manned aircraft like the F-15 Eagle and the F-22 Raptor are among the world’s elite when it comes to world-class, high-altitude military operations, and drones may soon join their side as competent allies, even as replacements.
Colonel Julian Cheater, commander of the 432nd Wing based at Creech Air Force Base, stated for the record that although technically declassified, the information was not known to many. Officially, the Air Force “launched an air-to-air missile against a maneuvering target that scored a direct hit” he said. The operations prove it’s the first of its kind anywhere in the world.
The MQ-9 Reaper was placed in direct opposition to a drone, with instructions to deliver a heat-seeking payload, which it accomplished effectively. Cheater said that the successful procedure was done with a specific purpose. “We develop those tactics, techniques, and procedures to make us survivable against those types of environments and, if we do this correctly, we can survive against some serious threats against normal players out there,” he said, in a sit-down interview with Military.com.
While neither Cheater nor the Air Force will distinctively identify the purpose of these weapons, it is suggested by numerous reputed sources that air-to-air drone weaponry is operated with the specific purpose of eliminating threats from locations like Russia and China. In the unlikely event that unstable relations instigate wartime operations, the Air Force aims to remain ready.
Cheater called the new standard for warfare a “hybrid” one, citing the synthesis between artificial, unmanned weaponry and the necessity for human participation. Still, he said he hopes that this aircraft will prove successful when tested in the field. “So if you package this aircraft in properly with other aircraft, it will be survivable.” he said.