An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)
The Guardian: US retires Predator drones after 15 years that changed the 'war on terror'
Retirement gives military analysts a chance to review mixed history of weapon that has been associated with low-cost war, disembodiment and civilian deaths.
The Predator is dead; long live the Reaper. The retirement of the antiquated Predator drone MQ-1, which is to be withdrawn from service in July and replaced by the more capable MQ-9 Reaper, is giving military analysts an opportunity to review the mixed history of a weapon that has long been associated with low-cost war, a sense of disembodiment from conflict, and for inflicting a high number of civilian casualties.
“There’s a perception in large parts of the American political system that drone campaigns are more or less free, but that’s not true,” says Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Like anything that’s perceived as free, it tends to get overused.”
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WNU Editor: This is the drone that will replace the Predator .... Fear the Reaper: U.S. drone that replaces the controversial Predator is a much faster, deadlier weapon (National Post/Bloomberg). On a side note .... Drone operators outnumber any other type of Air Force pilot (Endgadget).