The Air Force or the more properly named Chair Force fears
that the Taliban may attempt a terror attack against bases in Nevada and
Arizona, where the pilots and equipment that control (via satellite link),
the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer surveillance Unmanned
Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), flying over Pakistan and Afghanistan.
These UAVs have killed dozens of Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in the past year.
The terrorists have fired mortars at the Pakistani Air Force bases that the UAVs
operate from, but these attacks have been too limited to do much damage,
much less interfere with flight operations. The Taliban are getting desperate.
It's unlikely that the Taliban could carry out an attack on the well-guarded
bases, containing the UAV Ground Control Stations (GCS).
But terrorist forum chatter is getting increasingly bold about attacking the
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.
Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Dozens of civilians in Taliban controlled tribal territory have been accused of
being spies and executed.
(Providing location data for the UAV attacks),
Most of these victims are believed to be innocent,
as the Taliban have been unable to produce any concrete evidence that the UAVs
are relying on informants to provide target locations.
Meanwhile, no matter what the Taliban and al-Qaeda do,
the Hellfire missiles continue to find their targets.
Thus carrying out an attack on the UAV GCS,
in the former United States, has become a popular subject of conversation.
At least enough for Air Force security officials to take notice and issue a warning.
The Predator and Reaper program is not infallible though,
it's at the mercy of our bumbling politicians in Washington, D.C..
By the time authorization comes to attack high value targets,
it's often too late.
Predator surveillance pilots in Nevada logged 600 hours
watching Ayman al-Zawahiri as he moved around Iraq.
When they finally got the OK to fire at Zarqawi's car,
a computer glitch prevented the Hellfire missile from launching.
By the time an F-16 was dispatched to finished the job,
the window of opportunity had closed.
To alleviate these headaches the MQ-9 Reaper is now the preferred offensive
weapon of choice; it too is flown by a pilot in Nevada.
The Reaper flies higher and faster than the Predator,
and it's bigger, able to carry four 500-pound bombs.
The main mission of the MQ-1 Predator is now to provide intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance,
but it often falls into the role of Close Air Support (CAS).
In the CAS role, the Predator either works closely with other CAS assets such as
the Reaper, or provides firepower of its own with the use of the upgraded
Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER),
technology bringing a vastly improved version of the Hellfire missile to
bear on the target.
Simply put, ROVER technology allows troops on the ground in the field to utilize
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with a laptop computer can zoom in
with the ROVER system to within about three meters of a target from as little as
500 feet up to 10 miles away.
The thing that makes the ROVER system invaluable to battlefield airmen is that
it is light. The laptop, antennas, and main component weigh about 15 pounds, and the system
is easy to use.
The Taliban's dream of taking out the UAVs by attacking Air Force Bases is a far
The next generation of UAV,
the Avenger or Predator C, is a stealth UAV which can fly practically undetected
at 60,000 feet.
The Avenger is currently being fine-tuned at the Gray Butte flight operations
facilities of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI).
Its full capabilities are unknown,
several Technicians have leaked several items,
but these cannot be verified.
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