The newest unmanned aerial vehicle in the US and British arsenals are about to go operational in Afghanistan. The Reaper will be controlled by operators sitting in a facility near Las Vegas, Nevada, but will be capable of killing in real time half a world away. The taliban will have ample reason to fear the Reaper very soon, indeed.
Britain's armed forces are sending pilotless "robot" strike aircraft into battle for the first time, allowing controllers sitting at a computer outside Las Vegas to drop guided bombs on the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The "Reaper" unmanned aerial vehicle marks a major watershed for the Royal Air Force and has been rushed into service after senior defence chiefs identified it as a vital weapon in the fight against Taliban insurgents.
Analysts believe that armed drones such as the £10million Reaper are the beginning of the end for human bomber and fighter pilots, and that increasingly sophisticated UAVs represent the future of aerial warfare.
When the RAF bought its first three Reapers from American manufacturers last year commanders intended to use them only as spyplanes, but senior commanders have now decided to fit them with 500lb guided bombs and Hellfire guided missiles, turning them into Britain's first unmanned combat aircraft.
The pioneering airstrikes are expected to take place in southern Afghanistan within days, once formal export clearances are confirmed by the U.S. Government.
The RAF already has almost 50 personnel operating similar American drones from Creech Air Force Base in the Nevada desert, outside Las Vegas, as part of an exchange programme.
Now they will switch to flying the RAF's own Reaper drones, dropping weapons via satellite link on targets around 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan.
I've posted about the Reapers before. There are links on that post to various reports about the aircraft.