The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is planning to offer war commanders an armed surveillance aircraft option to support ground troops. The “armed overwatch” plane will come equipped with laser-guided rockets and Hellfire missiles.
Fewer ground troops will need to be sent into the enemy fire if an armed surveillance plane can locate and attack enemy fighters. Such an “armed overwatch” aircraft can act as an intelligence node capable of sending troop movements data and targeting information. Fighters often hide in buildings, requiring precision strikes. Air support in counterinsurgency combat can offer precision weapons based on advanced military technology such as a laser rangefinder.