First Strike

The Air Force’s new MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle over the weekend performed its first combat strike when its operator launched a Hellfire missile against enemy combatants in Afghanistan. Ground forces declared the strike in Deh Rawod successful. USAF sent the new hunter-killer, a larger version of the Predator UAV, to Southwest Asia in September. Since the Reaper is still in test, personnel from the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and Air Combat Command’s 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron also deployed to Afghanistan to observe and test this first deployment of the MQ-9 system, gauging the time required to reassemble all components, including the airframe, which Reaper-maker General Atomics disassembled for shipment. SrA. Julius Delos Reyes reports that evaluators said the test went very well.