For apparently the first time ever, U.S. Predator drones will be patrolling Somali waters.
Yet they’re there not to protect U.S. military forces.
Rather, they’ll be patrolling one of the most dangerous, yet vital, commercial shipping routes from pirate attacks.
This could be an interesting first step towards even wider use of the vessels to protect global business interests, of any country.
Though we can’t help but get flashbacks of the flying Hunter Killer from Terminator.
Predator drones are designed by General Atomics, a unit of defence giant General Dynamics (GD). [Correction: They used to be part of GD, but are now separate.]
Hellenic Shipping News: In an effort to stem the surge, unmanned U.S. military surveillance planes called MQ-9 Reapers stationed on the island nation of Seychelles are being deployed to patrol the Indian Ocean in search of pirates, Moeller told The Associated Press in an interview at command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The patrols began this week, military officials said.
The 36-foot-long Reapers are the size of a jet fighter, can fly about 16 hours and are capable of carrying a dozen guided bombs and missiles. They are outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting.
Military officials said Friday the drones would not immediately be fitted with weaponry, but they did not rule out doing so in the future.
Analysts said they expected the Reapers would also be used to hunt al-Qaida and other Islamist militants in Somalia. While Moeller said the aircraft would “primarily” be used against pirates, he acknowledged they could also be used for other missions.
The author does not hold any direct stake in General Dynamics shares.