Online news reports have suggested that an experimental, home-grown reconnaissance drone called “Silver Fang” was deployed by the U.S. Air Force to Afghanistan during the mid-2010s.
According to Defense News, the US Air Force deployed mysterious drone to Afghanistan to catch terrorists planting roadside bombs and very little information about the Silver Fang unmanned aerial system is available online. According to some sources, Silver Fang is a derivative of the Silver Fox UAS originally developed by BAE Systems and now owned by Raytheon.
“Silver Fang was an Air Force Research Laboratory program that provided intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability based on a Tier II, runway-independent small unmanned aerial system,” Daryl Mayer, a spokesman for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where AFRL is located said.
Proof of the extent of the usage of Silver Fang was seen when a photo of the aircraft featured in an August 2015 AFRL presentation showed a fixed-wing, rail-launched plane with a sensor ball attached at the aft of the aircraft. Further, a slide from an Air Force Research Laboratory presentation shows the Silver Fang drone, which was deployed to Afghanistan.
The article also said that Silver Fang’s experience in Afghanistan raised interesting questions about how often was it being operated and whether it was successful in finding explosive devices. The Air Force Research Laboratory confirmed the existence of the aircraft but did not comment further as the information was classified.
This is not the first time Silver Fang has been discussed. According to the article, during a September 2016 hearing in front of a congressional panel, Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, then the head of AFRL, cited Silver Fang as a success story of how the organization can quickly move technologies from development to the field. However, he also noted the difficulty of transitioning them to programs of record.
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