The Air Force announced that it is acquiring a Predator C Avenger remotely piloted aircraft from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for use as a test asset. The service will utilize the jet-powered, multi-role vehicle in activities that help the United Stated mature a next-generation unmanned combat platform to support Operation Enduring Freedom. “This aircraft will act as the test vehicle to develop those next-generation [RPA] sensors, weapons, and tactics, techniques and procedures, ensuring a quick, smooth, and efficient fielding of these advanced capabilities to the area of operations,” according to the USAF document outlining these plans. “This procurement,” it adds, will allow developers to advance Avenger “into a platform able to carry a greater variety of sensors and weapons, up to and including 2,000-pound stores, which is double the ability of current [RPA] platforms.” General Atomics unveiled the company-funded Avenger in April 2009, although company officials had spoken of it, albeit only to a limited extent, for years prior to that.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.