Patterico's Pontifications

10/30/2007

Don’t Do Fear the Reaper

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 1:53 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Air Force has successfully deployed, tested, and used the MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in Afghanistan:

“The MQ-9A Reaper armed reconnaissance UAV fired its first Hellfire missile at enemy combatants in the Deh Rawod region of Afghanistan, some 70 miles from the UAV’s base at Kandahar. Ground forces said that the strike was effective, according to the USAF.

For the time being, the USAF seems to be taking advantage of the Reaper’s heavier payload versus the smaller Predator, operating with up to four Hellfires and two GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. (The Predator is working hard with two Hellfires.) So far it’s not clear whether the service is using the new UAV’s other advantages: high altitude, longer range and radar.

All weapons are laser-guided, reflecting a trend towards the laser’s assured targeting — versus the possibility of confusion with a coordinate-guided weapon like JDAM.”

The Reaper’s mission is to hunt and kill emerging targets. With apologies to Blue Oyster Cult, may the Reaper hunt well and cause justified fear.

— DRJ

15 Responses to “Don’t Do Fear the Reaper”

  1. Needs more cow bell.

    [Heh. Everything is better with more cow bell. — DRJ]

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  2. The less we have to put our guys and gals in copters and close air support fixed wing aircraft the better.
    In 30 years it will be unlikely that pilots will be in the cockpit of combat aircraft – rather they will maneuver from a ground unit far from the heat of battle.

    voiceofreason (967605)

  3. Gotta be a troll arriving soon to whine that this isn’t fair.

    Old Coot (20ca0f)

  4. Sweet!

    Gbear (5a473d)

  5. The Reaper’s mission is to hunt and kill emerging targets.

    Well, screw Kandahar. At $8m a copy, they’re better in Arizona with the Border Patrol.

    steve (8c7181)

  6. No way, Steve.

    Anyone have a guess whether this will make a difference in Afghanistan? Michael Yon’s recent reports have been discouraging. It’s hard to see how one weapon could make much difference but, then again, success in war is often a matter of degrees. What do you think VOR?

    DRJ (5c60fb)

  7. Any of you seen the video of the IR spotlight designating unfriendlies for night-time fire from an attack elicopter? I bet video of this attack looked just as cool. :)

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  8. Why, “no way?”

    The Reaper (aka Predator B) already flew nearly a thousand hours on patrol in AZ and had a part in 2,309 arrests. It also contributed to the seizure of four vehicles and 8,267 pounds of marijuana.

    steve (8c7181)

  9. DRJ,

    I agree with you about success in matters of degree, particularly in Afghanistan. In two battles this week over 125 or so Taliban were killed. They don’t have nearly the numbers that we do and rely on guerilla tactics.
    Eventually we will break their will. If you lose 20-50% of your forces recruitment is next to impossible and the ability to fight effectively is degraded substantially. Personally I think they may be almost on the ropes at this point in time. they are fighting in the winter which they don’t normally do – possibly a sign of desperation and need to have some successes to maintain support.

    In regards to the Reaper imagine what a difference something like this would have made in Viet Nam. The phrase “they own the night” is not one that can be applied to the Taliban. I had the opportunity to view the near real time video feeds the Predators were sending back from Afghanistan and they are really impressive.

    The cost will go down as more are produced. Using them at the border would be kind of a waste. For one the US is not going to target unarmed illegals and secondly the UAVs for recon can be used for surveillance instead of the ones with weapons.

    8M seems like a lot of money but compared to the cost of losing a helicopter full of special forces it is chump change.

    voiceofreason (4b49ef)

  10. I agree VoR.

    Even one pilot > $8 million

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  11. Steve,

    Sorry. I mistook your comment for something more than it was. I agree it would be a good idea to use drones for surveillance. I just don’t see why we need the Reaper when the Predator or other unmanned drones would work just as well.

    DRJ (5c60fb)

  12. The Reaper is obviously being used for a long-loiter, surveilance/attack aircraft – two for the price of one. By deploying these into combat zones, the Feds will free up the Predator for non-combat (border enforcement) uses. Also, with the enhanced payload, larger (or additional) targets can be engaged.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  13. Killing large numbers of Taliban won’t win Afghanistan. They have, effectively, an endless supply of men from Pakistan.

    The problem in Afghanistan is the same in Iraq pre-surge and still to some degree post-surge: not enough soldiers. Put another 50,000 troops in Afghanistan and you’d see a huge difference. This is why I’m very displeased with the Administration for being so pussy over NATO countries reneging on their promised troop commitments to Afghanistan. Two million soldiers in the NATO alliance, and they can’t find 50,000 anywhere to send over. It’s not so much that they aren’t doing it, I expect Europe to benefit from American strength while doing everything possible to not support or undermine it…

    But you say you’re going to do it, you don’t do it, and you basically stare at us and don’t say anything when we ask you about it. The hell with that.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  14. Chaos,

    I disagree with your analysis. The nature of the fight is a special forces type of engagement. Putting 50,000 troops there accomplishes little more than providing the Taliban more targets.
    The Taliban are going back and forth between Pakistan. As it stands now, not that many Pakistanis are inclined to go into Afghanistan.

    voiceofreason (c521b0)

  15. Put 50,000 troops i Afghanistan and you have the Afghans being told we are there to conquer them.

    davod (5bdbd3)


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