Lahore, Feb. 10 (ANI): US Central Command officials are planning to rope in even more capable drones to support their Afghanistan operations. Already, unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flight hours in Afghanistan have doubled every three months, Aviation Week and Space Technology reports.
The magazine claims that Pentagon's UAS fleet is growing and providing new capabilities for war efforts as planners weigh options for even more sophisticated systems.
The first Navy Global Hawk has arrived in the Middle East and for its first flight. The aircraft will conduct maritime surveillance missions in the region using a sensor, the officials say.
The US air force is working for the verification of its active electronically scanned radar (AESA), designed to identify and track moving targets. Similar flights, for the ground moving target indicator (GMTI), are expected to be validated within the next couple of weeks.
Central Command officials are pushing for more SAR and GMTI capabilities to support Afghanistan operations.
Pentagon acquisition chief John Young recently approved the army's incremental approach to acquiring and fielding its MQ-1C Warrior UAS.
US army has plans for an "Enhanced Warrior" system, which could carry about 500lb of additional payload on the centreline of the aircraft. This capability could possibly be used to add fuel and endurance to the system.
MQ-9 Reaper, a variant of the Predator is being tested by the Air Force. The aircraft has dropped six, 500lb GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions so far. Testing is expected to conclude this month.
The army is proceeding with plans to equip its RQ-7 Shadow UAS, a tactical, rail-launched system, with laser designators and new, larger wings. As Shadow flight hours decrease in Iraq, UAS flight hours in Afghanistan have doubled every three months in large part due to Shadow operations, the magazine claims.
Among the vertical-lift UASs, Fire Scout is beginning sea trials this week. The Fire Scout has BriteStar II electro-optical and infrared payload as well as a communications relay. Radar is being integrated, and the system could eventually carry weapons. (ANI)