The Predator drone aircraft has been one of the most successful, and controversial, tools in Iraq and elsewhere. But while the Predator was designed as a reconnaissance airplane — and later retrofitted with Hellfire missiles — its successor was designed to attack.
The MQ-9 Reaper is twice as fast as the Predator, and can carry far more ordnance — 14 Hellfire missiles as opposed to two. Military officials are calling it the first "hunter-killer UAV."
Reaper pilots have just started training at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. They expect to fly combat missions this summer in Iraq and Afghanistan.