A Russian fighter jet struck the propeller of a US MQ-9 Reaper drone on Tuesday, causing it to crash into the Black Sea in an incident condemned as “reckless’ by the Pentagon.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufactured by military contractor, General Atomics. It is remotely operated by a two-person team, consisting of a pilot and an aircrew member who operates sensors and guides weapons.
The aircraft is 11 metres long with a wingspan of over 22 metres with sophisticated cameras, sensors and radars. The US air force says its primary use is as “an intelligence-collection asset”, while also highlighting its “unique capability to perform” precision strikes against “high-value and time-sensitive targets”. Reapers can carry as many as 16 Hellfire missiles, equivalent to the payload capacity of an Apache helicopter.
Al Jazeera’s Alex Gatopoulos explains.
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