> our title:

A Close Look at the Reaper Drone

> original title:

A Five Part Series on the Reaper Drone

(Source: Center for Defence Information; issued February 27, 2012)

Time Magazine's Battleland blog is starting a five part series on the MQ-9 Reaper drone.

Specifically, have drones like Reaper caused a "revolution" in warfare, as some respected commentators proclaim?
Should they soon replace manned aircraft? Have we heard this rhetoric before?
How should drones be evaluated to compare them to aircraft and assess the "revolution"?
What is a Reaper? Simply an unmanned aerial drone? Or, is there more to it than that? Finally, what are some of the more, and less, useful sources of information on Reaper?

Subsequent parts of this series will address:
-- Actual Cost and Performance,
-- Ability to Find and Discriminate Targets,
-- How Many Reapers and Predators Are There? How Many Have Crashed? and
-- Summary and Conclusions: Where Is the Revolution?

Part 1: Revisiting the Reaper Revolution (excerpt)

In a surprise move this year, the Pentagon has reduced spending for two aerial drones. A version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk will be relegated to storage to be superseded by more capable versions, and future production of the MQ-9 Reaper is to be reduced from 48 per year to 24.

The decisions were surprising. Drones are widely touted as the future of warfare. How can it be that the 40-year old, manned U-2 reconnaissance aircraft can do the mission better than even an early-generation drone?

The Reaper decision was not attached to any admission of disappointment; it was just a matter of budget constraints and skilled manpower shortages, DOD said. The minor setback with Global Hawk notwithstanding, the aura of a leap-ahead in war-fighting technology is left intact, or so it is to be believed. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the first installment of the series, on the Time Battlespace blog.