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A Reaper UAV shot down another drone last year in first known unmanned air-to-air kill

The incident, which took place last year and involved an unmanned target drone, was the first case of a drone shooting down another aircraft. The event is a watershed moment in the history of aerial warfare, as the nation's UAV force begins to muscle in on air-to-air combat—previously the exclusive domain of manned aircraft.

The test showed the U.S. Air Force that a UAV like the MQ-9 has the ability to conduct air-to-air combat, much like its manned fighter brethren such as an F-15 Eagle or F-22 Raptor, says Col. Julian Cheater, commander of the 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.

The effort is key to preparing for the next big aerial war against near-peer threats such as Russia or China, who are advancing their skills not only in their own drone forces but also in hypersonics, electronic warfare (EW), lasers, and missile testing, Cheater says.

This publication has been adapatated by Cédric Giboulot for 's readers.

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