Posted by lex, on September 16, 2009
UAVs are pretty slick when it comes to long-dwell ISR and plausible denial. But there are certainly drawbacks to beyond-line-of-sight command and control:
A drone pilot’s nightmare came true when operators lost control of an armed MQ-9 Reaper flying a combat mission over Afghanistan on Sunday. That led a manned U.S. aircraft to shoot down the unresponsive drone before it flew beyond the edge of Afghanistan airspace.
The U.S. Air Force stated that a manned aircraft took “proactive measures” to shoot down the Reaper, which ended up crashing into the side of a mountain. Reaper drones have typically engaged in hunter-killer missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan by targeting enemies on the ground with Hellfire missiles.