Warplanes: February 19, 2003


The follow on for the current Predator UAV (or MQ-1), the Predator B (or MQ-9) is still in development, even though it has flown some combat missions in the Balkans. Although the MQ-9 is still carrying 3,000 pounds of weapons, the total weight of the aircraft has risen to five tons. Testing has found that the Stinger doesn't make a very good air-to-air weapon. In fact, the Predator shot down by an Iraqi fighter recently was carrying a stinger, but wasn't able to get a good shot at the Iraqi aircraft. So now the air force is looking into using Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on the MQ-9. JDAM, Maverick, Hellfire and HARM missiles, as well as unguided rockets, are also being tested on the MQ-9. The air force is finding that an aircraft that can stay in the air for over 12 hours at a time, and carries weapons, is a lot more useful than they ever thought it would be. 


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