The airplane is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It's outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles.
The Reaper is loaded, but there's no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.
The Reaper should begin to appear in both Afghanistan and Iraq by this fall. How effective do you think it is gong to be in dealing with street level, house-to-house combat? How is a robot attack plane screaming past at 50,000 feet, dropping bombs controlled from 7,000 miles away going to deal with the realities of house to house combat of the kind we are seeing in Afghanistan and Iraq? It won't, of course, it will just be a way to kill innocent civilians without getting your hands dirty while doing on the cheap. It is a sin against all that is human.
The Reaper won't be the first flying drone to take out human targets, that "honor" goes to the Predator. But the Reaper is faster, larger, and far more deadly.
The arrival of the outsize U.S. "hunter-killer" drones, in aviation history's first robot attack squadron, will be a watershed moment even in an Iraq that has seen too many innovative ways to hunt and kill.
If you don't think the the operators of the Reaper sitting all comfortable in their sanitary room with nothing but a video screen and a joystick won't treat war like a video game then your are very naive. How are we going to explain to the civilized people of the world what we are doing? There is no justification for this. How are the people of Iraq and Afghanistan going to feel about being bombed from 50,000 feet by robots?
This is a terrible, terrible thing. Taking the pain, blood, death and sacrifice out of war just makes it easier to wage and this something we should all rage against.h/t Kos