The U.S. Air Force is on track to expand its multi-million dollar drone fleet with evidence emerging that new stealth drones are under development by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman on classified funds.
Bill Sweetman of the Aviation Week & Space Technology has gathered evidence of new stealth Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that would potentially be armed. This new generation of drones, if successfully engineered, will pale the widely-used Predator and Reaper drones in comparison.
Although the use of drones has been a hallmark of the United States’ so-called war on terrorism in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, “in a fight against a real military like China’s, the relatively defenseless unmanned aerial vehicles would get shot down in a second,” the Wired magazine reports.
“Now the Iraq war is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. All the military branches are revamping their arsenals for an era in which they anticipate fewer long-term counter-insurgency campaigns and more short, high-intensity wars such as last year’s Libya campaign plus the ongoing responsibility of deterring a rising China,” it said,
General Mike Hostage, head of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command has stressed the need for revamping the U.S. drone fleets to make them more compatible to future air defense requirements.
“The fleet I’ve built up — and I’m still being prodded to build up, too — is not relevant in that new theater,” he said last week.
The U.S. Air Force has announced that it might scale back its known current and future drone fleets while shifting gear towards a more sophisticated generation of stealth robots.
The Army and Navy are also planning to expand their own UAV fleets. “The Army is proceeding with plans to purchase more than 100 copies of its own armed Predator variant. The Navy is pouring billions into a stealthy, jet-powered attack drone that can launch from aircraft carriers,” The Wired reported.
The CIA and the U.S. military use drones
to target and kill those Washington describes as “suspected militants” in
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya among other
The United Nations has identified the U.S. as the world's number one user of "targeted killings" and is taking action against the U.S. drone war by setting up an investigation unit as early as next year to examine the legality of drone attacks abroad.