In a first, an Ukrainian military exercise will feature the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper combat drone being intercepted by the military's air defense system.
The exercise will take place on the western border of the country, Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement.
"The purpose of the training is to exchange experience in the air defense field, in particular, to conduct practical training on tracking, target capture and imitation of the destruction of the MQ-9 Reaper," acting commander of the West Air Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Dmitry Karpenko said.
Kevin O'Brien, a representative of the U.S. Air Force in Europe, said this will help Ukrainian air defense units to test the ground-based anti-aircraft missile forces. “The purpose of the event is to share experience in air defense, including conducting practical tracking, capturing targets and ‘destruction’ of MQ-9 Reaper,” he added.
The MQ-9 Reaper is the Air Force's first hunter-killer UAV. It is larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator and is designed to go after time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, and destroy or disable those targets with 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles. It can an stay airborne for up to 14 hours fully loaded.
A 900-horsepower turbo-prop engine, compared to the 119-horsepower Predator engine, powers the aircraft. It has a 64-foot wingspan and carries more than 15 times the ordnance of the Predator, flying almost three times the Predator's cruise speed.