02:03 GMT +320 November 2019
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    An MQ-9 Reaper, a hunter-killer surveillance UAV

    The New Predator: US Reaper Drones Get New 500-Pound Bombs

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    A long-awaited plan to equip US MQ-9 Reaper drones with GPS-maneuvered joint direct attack munition GB-38 bombs has finally come to fruition.

    The GB-38 officially became operational this week, as part of the Reaper’s weapon’s package. It was dropped on Daesh terrorists in the course of the US military’s campaign to smash the violent extremist group in Iraq and Syria, a Pentagon official told Military.com.

    The Reaper will become the Pentagon’s exclusive drone for bombings as the MQ-1 Predator retires. Effective July 1, the Predator will have flown its last flight for the US military. 

    JDAM is not actually a bomb. It was built as a “bolt-on” feature to convert gravity bombs into precision-guided munitions. For the Reaper, the JDAM is attached to a 500-pound unguided Mark-82 body. In addition to GPS connectivity, some JDAM-converted munitions are equipped with laser guidance technology to make it through poor ground or weather conditions. 

    The GBU-38 can be loaded onto aircraft about 10 minutes quicker than the GBU-12 Paveway II bombs, a senior airman who works on aircraft maintenance said, according to Defense Tech. The new weapon “gets the plane in the air quicker,” he said. 

    An Air Force captain pointed out to the military publication that the new bomb “has a different guidance system.” This allows “commanders to provide different effects and make a difference for the guys on the ground,” he added.

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    MQ-9 Reaper drone, drone, US Air Force, United States
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