U.S. To Boost Use of Armed Drones in Iraq, Afghanistan
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS | July 16, 2007
The U.S. Air Force announced plans Friday to nearly double the number of combat air patrols over Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of next year using armed redator drones.
The move comes amid a troop surge in Iraq but also intensifying calls for a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces.
An air force spokesman would not say whether the accelerated delivery of Predators was prompted by the surge, or other factors.
The air force currently uses armed unmanned Predators to fly a dozen round-the-clock combat air patrols over Iraq and Afghanistan a day.
The air force had planned to increase the number of those patrols to 21 by December 2009, but General T. Michael Moseley has moved up the target date by a year, the air force said in a statement.
“The air force is pushing to expand Predator air patrols for Admiral Fallon’s use as quickly as possible,” said Lieutenant General David Deptula, deputy chief of staff in charge of air force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Admiral William Fallon is the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.
The Predators are flown by two to four member crews who operate the aircraft from bases in the western United States.
The number of crews will grow from 120 to 160 to meet the demand, the air force said. A spokesman would not say how many Predators would be required.
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