So we all heard about killer drones hunting down AQ bigwigs in Afghanistan (and maybe even Pakistan) and Yemen. But now we got word of a new battlefield for the armed drone.
Sure, the MQ-9 "Reaper" has made some headlines in the past, but in what sounds like a first, the Armys newly armed MQ-5B/C Hunter targeted a team of bad guys implanting a roadside bomb near Qayyarah.
We reported that the Army was to deploy these robot killers to Iraq, but the Pentagon announced this weekend the Hunters first kill. The attack occurred on Sept. 1, according to officials in Iraq, but why it took a week to announce the development is anyones guess.
Drones are a ubiquitous presence in Iraq. You can hear their lawn-mower buzz overhead all day and all night. I know more than a few Soldiers and Marines who had wished all along that the little plane buzzing overhead could just zap the target itself, rather than force troops to run the IED gauntlet and possibly miss the enemy team.
A Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle engaged and killed two suspected improvised explosive device emplacers overwatching a major thoroughfare for Coalition Forces during a historic flight near Qayyarah, Iraq, in Nineveh province Sept. 1.
A scout weapons team from 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, observed the two unknown enemy fighters in a tactical overwatch near the roadside. The SWT requested support from the Hunter UAV.
The pilots guided the Hunter operator to the scene where it set up for a strike mission and dropped its precision munition, killing both unknown enemies and marking a first in Army Aviation history.
"Its very humbling to know that we have set an Army historical mark in having the first successful launch in combat from an Army weaponized UAV," said Capt. Raymond Fields, commander, Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Company. "This would not be possible without my Soldiers and civilians working hard day in and day out in Iraq to accomplish this feat."
Fields continued, "I think that this success will set the tone for Army Aviation in years to come. We will see more weaponized Army unmanned vehicles being used instead of manned platforms to save not only our aviator brethren but our Army ground brethren from enemy contact."
"This accomplishment adds a precise and discriminate means for our Army to successfully engage the enemy in counterinsurgency warfare," said Col. A.T. Ball, commander, 25th CAB.
(Gouge: NC; Photo: Defense Update)