Unmanned drone reaches milestone

Jan. 22, 2008 at 2:16 PM
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HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Air Force officials have announced a milestone in the development of air-to-ground missile capabilities of unmanned drones.

Officials from the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron announced a recent test of the Air Force's unmanned drone technology resulted in the first air-to-ground missile launched from a full-scale aerial target drone. The milestone marked the first time the unmanned drone has been able to return fire, the U.S. Air Force reported.

"This is the first air-to-ground missile fired off an unmanned full-scale aerial target," Maj. John Markle, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron operations officer, said in a statement. "This test is an important part of the mission because it increases survivability of our airmen going against surface-to-air missile threats. Furthermore, it's the first time the drone has been able to shoot back.

"It makes airpower more lethal. This is a new high-speed, anti-radiation missile the Navy designed to defeat SAM (surface-to-air missile) threats; overall this mission is going to benefit the Department of Defense."

The QF-4 Phantom FSAT drone was operated by remote control over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

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