Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s death on Thursday night by way of U.S. military drone strike caused shockwaves around the world. The infamous “shadow commander” of Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s special forces units met his eternal fate at the hands of an unfathomably advanced and secretive CIA drone known as the MQ-9 Reaper.
According to The Washington Examiner, U.S. Air Force pilots fly the deadly drones to the area of operation, but the mission that took Soleimani’s death on Thursday evening was reportedly under the watch of the CIA. And of course, the mission was green-lighted by President Donald Trump.
The drone’s capabilities are something right out of a Hollywood military movie script, capable of causing precision-targeted chaos within seconds, or gathering mission crucial reconnaissance with slim chance of enemy detection.
The Reaper drone is an “armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily against dynamic execution targets and secondarily as an intelligence collection asset.”
The specialized drone “provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.”
With those specs, it’s no wonder the Reaper was chosen for such a delicate and time-sensitive kill mission — the drone reportedly fired off several AGM-114 missiles as Soleimani and his men as they traveled in a convoy near Iraq’s Baghdad airport, completely demolishing the convoy and the bodies inside.
Here’s a reported video of the ground when the first missile struck the convoy carrying Soleimani and his men.
— Strategic News (@StrategicNews1) January 3, 2020
According to experts, like retired Air Force pilot and Heritage Foundation senior fellow John Venable, the Reaper was nothing short of the perfect fit for the sensitive mission.
“The MQ-9’s range, loiter time, and precision strike capability make it an ideal armed ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] platform for low threat environments,” Venable said.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula echoed Veneble’s assessment.
“The MQ-9 Reaper is the perfect weapon system for this job and highlights airpower’s ability to project accurate, timely, and lethal power,” he said. “”The strike was a measured and appropriate response after 18 months of restraint by the Trump administration to a series of aggressive Iranian violations of international law. He set a red line, warned Iran not to cross it, and when they did he acted appropriately to defend American personnel and interests.”
The MQ-9 boasts a wingspan of 66 feet and weighs in at roughly 4900 pounds, making it noticeably smaller than a conventional aircraft, and it’s capable of holding a variety of mission-specific munitions. With a price tag of $16 million, it’s also a cheaper and arguably more effective option to get the job done.
“The Reaper carries some of the most high-tech military equipment on the market. Its imaging system includes infrared sensors, color and black and white cameras, and a laser range finder and targeting device for precise attacks,” the Examiner reported.
What are your thoughts on the MQ-9 Reaper? Do you think it was the perfect killing machine to take out one of the world’s most dangerous men? Let us know in the comments and vote on our daily poll below.