The MQ-9 Reaper drone is the aircraft that the US military used to immediately strike back at ISIS-K after Thursday’s devastating suicide bombing terrorist attack at Kabul airport in Afghanistan amid the ongoing evacuation of US citizens, other Westerns, and Western Afghan allies.
While the Biden administration has failed miserably in Afghanistan with its botched withdrawal and the seemingly even more botched evacuation, it has been collaborating of sorts with the Taliban, the very same radical Islamist group that hosted al-Qaeda prior to 9/11, that the US has been fighting for 20 years, and that it has now surrendered the country to.
The Taliban were supposed to provide for security outside Kabul airport, but a suicide bomber from a rival and even more radical Islamist terrorist grouping, ISIS-K, the Afghanistan affiliate of ISIS, aided by gunmen attacked the crowd outside the airport killing 13 US troops and 169 Afghan civilians.
A seemingly weak Biden vowed that the terrorists will be hunted down and made to pay.
On Friday, hours later of the terrorist attack in Kabul, the US Central Command announced it has killed a key ISIS-K operative in a drone strike in Eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.
It remained unclear whether the killed “ISIS-K” planner was directly involved in Thursday’s terrorist attack.
Killer drone deployed from Middle East
The terrorist in question was taken out in “an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation” using a MQ-9 Reaper drone.
Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who is the head of the Central Command, had actually said the day before that the US military has also been using MQ-9 Reaper drones for surveillance in Kabul.
In the anti-ISIS-K strike, however, the MQ-9 Reaper was used for a deadly precision bombing strike that targeted a single moving vehicle which was transporting the ISIS-K operative in question, and which has caused no other damage or civilian casualties.
Defense officials cited by Reuters said the MQ-9 Reaper was selected with its munitions precisely because of their precision to minimize any potential civilian casualties.
The drone that conducted the strike was launched from of the US air bases in the Middle East but it hasn’t been revealed which one in particular.
Highly sophisticated system for ‘high-value, fleeting’ targets
The MQ-9 Reaper is manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and is part of the arsenal of the US Air Force.
It is armed with precision weapons and “smart” bombs: AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and aerial laser-guided bombs GBU-38 JDAM and GBU-12 Paveway II.
The MQ-9 Reaper is equipped with a Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine; it has a speech of 230 mph, and a range of 1,150 miles.
The MQ-9 Reaper is described as the primary unmanned aerial vehicle of the US Air Force for offensive strikes, and is praised for its high abilities on strike, coordination and reconnaissance at the same time.
According to its description, the drone is especially suitable for “high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.”
The MQ-9 Reaper is operated through a remotely piloted aircraft system with a rated pilot who controls the aircraft and command the mission plus an enlisted aircrew member who operates sensors and weapons.
A mission coordinator may be added as required.
The drone has a highly sophisticated “Multi-Spectral Targeting System” with “a robust suite of visual sensors” used for targeting, as well as a “laser range finder/designator.”
Its laser guided missiles and bombs are designed for “highly accurate, low-collateral damage” strikes against enemy armor and personnel.
The MQ-9 Reaper is designed primarily to support overseas contingency operations.