17:50 GMT07 April 2020
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    The new tech is designed to amplify the craft’s global surveillance and air attack capabilities.

    The 66-foot drone currently features the GBU-12 Paveway II, a 500-pound laser-guided bomb, GPS and Inertial Navigation System-guided bombs called JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), and the AGM-114 Hellfire missile. 

    In an interview with Scout Warrior last year, Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisitions representative Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch explained that the US military branch was determining the kind of arms that should be applied to the Reaper, and observed that a universal interface would allow those weapons to be interchanged and deployed more efficiently. 

    "We are looking at what kind of weapons do we need to integrate in. We're looking at anything that is in our inventory, including the small diameter bomb. We're working to get universal armament interface with an open mission systems architecture…If I can design to that interface, then it costs me less money and takes me less time to integrate a new weapon — I don’t want to go in and open up the software of the airplane. As long as I get the interface right, I can integrate that new weapon much sooner."

    The upgraded weapons will give the unmanned aerial vehicle the ability to strike mobile enemy groups or targets as well as further-range enemies, which would help in strikes against terrorist groups like Daesh, while mitigating damage to the platform.

    Officials noted that two 1,350 pound fuel tanks and will be added, increasing the crafts length of time aloft, from 16 to 22 hours.

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    Tags:
    unmanned aerial vehicles, Drone, US Air Force, United States
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