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Monday, August 24, 2015

The U.S. Air Force Is Getting Rid of Its Predator Drones

MQ-1 PredatorFrom the earliest days of the War on Terror , the U.S. has had one weapon that none of its enemies -- and few of its allies -- possessed: drones. Specifically, MQ-1 Predator drones built by privately held defense contractor General Atomics.

Twenty-seven feet long and sporting a 55-foot wingspan, the Predator is nearly as big as an F-16 fighter jet, but weighs just one-sixteenth as much. With its tiny 115-horsepower engine, the Predator buzzes through the air at just 84 miles per hour.

It can only fly about 770 miles -- less than half the range of an F-16. But that's far enough to make the drone a valuable surveillance asset -- and armed with two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, the Predator can shoot, as well as search. But now, it's the Predator itself that's in the crosshairs -- of the U.S. Air Force.

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