The Air Force is ramping up for flights in January to evaluate the effectiveness of the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle with a new weapons capability, using the Multi-Mission Guided Dispenser Tube. The tests, to be conducted at the Nellis Test and Training Range, Nev., will include one inert bomb, two live BLU-108 submunitions, and two live Clean Lightweight Area Weapons, which has the same form and weight of the BLU-108 and is designed for soft targets, said Lt. Col. Eric Mathewson, the deputy chief of UAV requirements for the requirements directorate at ACC. Mathewson said the UAV Battlelab at Creech AFB, Nev., conceived the idea for coupling the popular UAV with the dispenser tube. He explained that the battlelab would determine whether the tube performs as expected, the carriage and release characteristics work for the Predator, the targeting system directs the munitions to within an “acceptable circular error probable,” and the weapons are effective on target.
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.