'Beast of Kandahar' drone has capability of including Pak, Iran in its range

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Washington, Dec. 10 (ANI): The U.S. Air Force has acknowledged the existence of a new unmanned aircraft, which aeronautics fans have nicknamed the "Beast of Kandahar", and according to an aerospace engineering expert, it has the capability of including most of Pakistan and Iran in its range.

Though no photos of the drone have been released, it is said to look very different from the Predator that is in use in Afghanistan at present.

According to Dr. Jamey D. Jacob, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State University, the Air Force may also be flying covert missions over Pakistan to help root out al Qaeda operations or even Osama bin Laden.

"We don't know what the range is, but it should easily be able to cover most of Iran and Pakistan based out of Kandahar," he told Fox News. nother source notes that the unmanned aircraft was tested in Nevada, where the F-117 stealth aircraft also debuted.

"The military has several flight test ranges it can fly from. Since it carries the 'R' designation it doesn't carry weapons, its surveillance only," Jacob said, adding "It's roughly the same size - span, tip-to-tip - as the Predator so it will have roughly similar payload capability, 500-1,000 lbs of surveillance equipment. However, it is shaped like the B-2 stealth bomber. If you look at the platform, it is very close to the B-2 design."

Dr. Jacob says the tail-less, flying wing design lends to this stealth capability, but unmanned aircraft may also have special paint - or "secret sauce" - and composite materials that provide additional stealth.

"It's rumoured to carry its IR pods in the wing's leading edge so this keeps its shape smooth. It is jet-powered-probably twin turbojet or low bypass ratio turbofan engines-so it'll be faster and more manoeuvrable than a comparable Predator vehicle and have the ability to fly higher, above the point where contrails typically form. This will help mask it's presence above a target," Dr. Jacob said. (ANI)

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