You may be the kind who don’t normally follow world news but are doing so now because of the fear and paranoia surrounding what happened in Iran—one if its top generals was killed in a drone strike orchestrated by the US. 

 Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani

We understand where you’re coming from, although it is not healthy to be over-anxious about things that are obviously bigger than all of us. We can only hope that the world will not be pushed to a crisis because of what’s happening. But it is important to keep ourselves informed of the events that are unfolding. World events are complicated, so it’s crucial that we put things in its proper context, which is probably what you’re doing right now.

When the first wave of news came out about the drone strike, one of the first accounts that we took focus on was exactly how the strike was carried out. Here is a video by US news outlet CBS evening news that described how the drones tracked and killed Gen. Soleimani:

It struck us how eerily Stark Industries the whole operation was carried out. The CBS report mentioned the drone that dropped the deadly payload: An MQ-9 Reaper.

MQ-9 Reaper

Our first thought: Now that’s one drone you can’t buy at Lazada or any of the online shops. It's not even a drone in the way you think a drone is, it's an airplane. It’s top-of-the-line war machine. 

Interestingly, information about the MQ-9 Reaper is not top-secret information. You can go to the US Air Force website and get info about the weapon. Here is what we got from the information sheet:

“The MQ-9 Reaper 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. Given its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons—it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.”

Here’s how it sees in the sky: “The MQ-9 baseline system carries the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which has a robust suite of visual sensors for targeting. The MTS-B integrates an infrared sensor, color/monochrome daylight TV camera, image-intensified TV camera, laser range finder /designator, and laser illuminator. The full-motion video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused.”

Here is how it eliminates targets: “The unit also incorporates a laser range finder/designator, which precisely designates targets for employment of laser-guided munitions, such as the Guided Bomb Unit-12 Paveway II. The Reaper is also equipped with a synthetic aperture radar to enable future GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions targeting. The MQ-9 can also employ four laser-guided , Air-to-Ground Missile (AGM)-114 Hellfire missiles, which provide highly accurate, low-collateral damage, anti-armor and anti-personnel engagement capabilities.”

Here is an infographic:

Source: US Air Force website