New Jet-Powered Drone Can Kill 1,800 Miles From Home Base || By Allen McDuffee | COURTESY: Mark A McDonald

Jericho777

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Image: General Atomics

The U.S. may be forced to withdraw troops completely from Afghanistan by the end of the year. That’s bad news if you’re the CIA and your lethal drone flights over neighboring Pakistan rely on the close proximity of Afghan airstrips.

Not surprisingly, the defense industry has already produced a solution: a new jet-powered drone that can range 1,800 miles from the nearest base.

The Avenger (formerly Predator C), whose prototype flew its first flight in 2009, is operationally ready after a new round of tests completed last month, according to its maker, General Atomics. Based on the company’s more well-known MQ-9 Reaper drone, Avenger is designed to perform high-speed, long-endurance surveillance or strike missions, flying up to 500 mph at a maximum of 50,000 feet for as long as 18 hours.

Compared to its earlier prototype, Avenger’s fuselage has been increased by four feet to accommodate larger payloads and more fuel…

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