Armed Drones: What the future beholds

The extensive use of drones by US in Iraq and Afghanistan to get even with militants has raised debates over multiple issues like civilian deaths, international law, efficacy of strikes and deterrence. The first remotely piloted drone as a weapon was the German FX-1400 or “Fritz”, during World War II. After the Vietnam War, the US Air Force used small, long range, experimental drones called Fireflies for reconnaissance over Southeast Asia. The Israeli Air Force used weaponized drone, the Pioneer, in the 1982 war in Lebanon which impressed US for increased UAV procurement and research in 1987. Pioneer eventually made its American debut during the Persian Gulf War. A group of Republican guards became the first humans to surrender to a drone. Armed UAVs were widely used in Global War on Terror (GWOT), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.

The WTO terrorist attack suddenly created a new demand for Hellfire-equipped Predators to hunt own terrorists in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Predators patrolled and destroyed Iraqi mobile radar units during Operation Southern Watch in preparation for the arrival of U.S. ground forces. Currently US use three types of drones built by General Atomics with offensive capabilities: the MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-1C Sky Warrior, and the MQ-9 Reaper. The Predator is the most commonly used, while the Reaper (Predator B), is the largest and most powerful on which US has doubled its budget spending. The Predator however remains the primary UAV in use. US military uses weaponized UAVs in two broad ways; reconnaissance in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and hunter-killer missions in Afghanistan. The CIA’s drone program in the tribal areas of Pakistan utilizes weaponized UAVs in hunter-killer missions. While the military program operates exclusively in recognized combat zones, the CIA program flies drones over the tribal and civilian areas with the reluctant and implicit support of the Pakistani government, which publicly condemns but allows base for drones. Read More…

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