The U.S. Air Force is sending a single copy of a brand-new stealth drone to Afghanistan. Only maybe not just Afghanistan.
Officially, the General Atomics-made Avenger — a sleek, jet-powered upgrade of the iconic armed Predator and Reaper — is heading to Afghanistan as a combat-capable “test asset.” The Air Force said in a statement that it loves how the Avenger’s “internal weapons bay and four hardpoints on each wing,” will give it “greater flexibility and will accommodate a large selection of next generation sensor and weapons payloads,” as reported by Zach Rosenberg at Flightglobal.
Problem is, you don’t really need those things in Afghanistan. Weapons bays are for stealth: most warplanes don’t have them. And it’s not like the Taliban has been firing radar-guided missiles at NATO aircraft. Besides, there are already dozens of armed drones in Afghanistan. One more isn’t going to make much of a difference.