The US Air Force has achieved its first kill in Afghanistan using a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper configuration Predator B unmanned air vehicle. The strike operation, using a Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missile, was carried out near the town of Deh Rawod in Oruzgan province, south-west of Kabul. Insurgent combatants were targeted during the mission, which the USAF says “was reported as successful”.

The USAF deployed its first Reaper to Afghanistan early last month, and the type made its first flight in country on 25 September. The service recently said that the aircraft had performed 12 missions up to 11 October, with those limited to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance roles.

USAF mission photos released over the past month indicate that the Reaper typically carries two Raytheon Paveway II 226kg (500lb) precision-guided bombs on its inboard weapon pylons and two Hellfire missiles on a single rack attached to a centre wing pylon.

© US Air Force

Nine Reapers have so far been delivered to the USAF, with more on their way. Deployment and combat use of the type comes as operational acceptance testing continues. The air force confirmed on 26 October that deployability testing was carried out at Kandahar airfield from 4-25 September.

The aircraft was air freighted into theatre, with General Atomics carrying out breakdown and packing at its facility at Grey Butte in southern California. The manufacturer is also providing in-theatre support for the Reaper.