An Air Force MQ-1 Predator crashed in southern Iraq May 2, Air Forces Central said in a release that same day. The aircraft was launched from Ali Base, Iraq, and went down about 4 a.m. local time. Mechanical failure is suspected, but a board will be convened to investigate, AFCENT said. USAF continues to operate its Predators as much as possible in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and is working to place more of them in the fight at an accelerated rate. In April, the Air Force conducted 11 strikes in Iraq in which Predators fired their Hellfire missiles at insurgents, setting a new high monthly mark for the use of these UAVs in that role.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.