Photo: US Army/Wikimedia
The U.S. Military will increase its number of armed and long-haul surveillance drones to 645 in 2022 from about 445 in 2013, as reported by Roxana Tiron at Bloomberg. The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that the defence Department will invest in are the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-1 Predator and 164 grey Eagle drones.
The grey Eagles are a project of the U.S. Army (as opposed to the Air Force) and would directly support ground forces. They were first deployed when the Army sent four to Iraq in 2009 and another four to Afghanistan in September 2010.
The defence Department plans to spend $770 billion on aviation assets from 2013 to 2022. This includes fighter jets, attack helicopters, airlift and cargo aircraft, combat search and rescue aircraft, air refueling planes, bombers, anti-ship and submarine aircraft, drones, training platforms and other aircraft used by Special Operations forces.
The Pentagon plans to increase the fleet by 45 per cent over the next decade despite the fact — or perhaps due to the fact — that it must cut $487 billion from its spending over the next 10 years and may face another $500 billion in cuts tied to the U.S. debt ceiling.
defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in January that the new strategy for the military is a “smaller and leaner” force, implying that the number of personnel would drop but UAVs would become a larger priority.
The military has about 7,500 UAVs in their arsenal (mostly unarmed) and the number is growing along with the commercial drone market.
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