This is very interesting, just after losing an RQ-170 Sentinel drone to Iran the AIr Force is sending a single, stealthy-ish Predator-C Avenger drone to Afghansistan.
The Predator C is made by General Atomics and appeared to be in the running for the Air Force’s MQ-X next-generation combat drone project. That effort was put on old when the service said that it wanted to revise the requirements to make the drone more survivable.
Now, the Air Force apparently requested that the drone be sent to Afghanistan before the RQ-170 crashed. Furthermore, an Air Force announcement makes it sound as if the Predator C’s wing hardpoints will be used to carry weapons, something that will eliminate any stealthiness. This makes it unlikely that the drone will be used as a replacement for the Sentinel.
Here’s the Force Announcement:
“This aircraft will be used as a test asset and will provide a significantly increased weapons and sensors payload capacity on an aircraft that will be able to fly to targets much more rapidly than the MQ-9 [Reaper] UAS. Since it has an internal weapons bay and four hardpoints on each wing it will also allow greater flexibility and will accommodate a large selection of next generation sensor and weapons payloads.”