War Drones (3/4)

War Drones is Drone Dossier’s roundup of new stories related to military drones. See the roundup below.

  • At the end of January the US Army lost a $1.5 million drone during a routine training exercise in Southern Arizona. The drone was found in Colorado, over 600 miles away, a few days later. The drone, a AAI RQ-7 Shadow, normally has a range of 77 miles. The Army lost communication with the drone, which normally would hover until a link is reestablished or try to ‘go home’. Some speculate that the drone might have been originally based at an Army facility in Washington State and was trying to make it back.
  • The US military has started off March by pounding al-Qaeda in Yemen with around 30 drone strikes in just two days. While it may be too early to tell, it looks like this is part of a new American wave a drone attacks. Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said, “This is part of a plan to go after this very real threat and ensure they are defeated, and denied the opportunity to plan and carry out terrorist attacks from ungoverned spaces in Yemen.”
  • Jane’s is reporting that China just secured its largest ever international order for military drones. The order was placed on Feb. 28th for the Wing Loong II, which resembles the American Reaper drone. The customer and exact value of the order was not made public by China.
  • Jane’s also reported that Taiwan just introduced a new armed Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone. The drone can reportedly carry two ground-attack missiles and has an operating range of over 1,000 km.
  • For over 15 years, various branches of the US military have used Predator drones in combat operation. Putting aside the controversy and necessity of these strikes, in many ways the Predator became a recognizable symbol for combat drones…but it won’t be for much longer. The US Air Force just announced it is retiring the Predator starting this July, with it being fully out of service by early 2018. The Predator will be replaced by the more advanced MQ-9 Reaper drones.

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