Warplanes: April 29, 2004

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Army plans to equip its Hunter UAVs with 44 pound Viper Strike laser guided bombs has caused a dispute between generals who want another aerial weapon, especially for fighting in heavily populated areas, and division commanders and intelligence officers who do not want to see their UAVs taken away from reconnaissance missions for combat duty. There are never enough UAVs, especially long endurance UAVs like the Hunter that can carry Vipers. The 1600 pound Hunter can carry up to 200 pounds of sensors and weapons. The Hunter is currently the workhorse UAV for combat divisions. The Hunter was originally a less successful competitor with the Predator UAV. But the army has persevered and fixed most of the Hunters problems. Now the Hunter has become a valuable reconnaissance tool for combat divisions. The Hunter can stay in the air for twelve hours and has a range of 200 kilometers. In Iraq, Hunters have flown nearly a thousand sorties since arriving in early 2003. 

Vipers are anti-tank weapons, and the warhead contains only four pounds of explosives. But this makes it an excellent weapon for fighting in urban areas, as the bomb is very accurate, and less likely to cause injury to nearby civilians. 

 


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