Entries in Predator Drones (5)


US Predator Drone Crashes in Seychelles

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(MAHE, Seychelles) -- An unarmed U.S. Predator drone crashed at the international airport in the Seychelles Tuesday. The United States operates a small fleet of unarmed surveillance drones out of the Seychelles to assist with countering the scourge of Somali pirates who terrorize the waters off of east Africa. 

 A U.S. Air Force statement said the remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft crashed at a runway at the Seychelles International Airport in Mahe Tuesday morning. “The MQ-9 was not armed and no injuries were reported,” said the statement.

After the debris was removed from the runway the airport re-opened for normal traffic.   The cause of the crash is unknown and is under investigation.

Tuesday’s Reaper crash was the first in the Seychelles since they started flying reconnaissance missions from the remote archipelago in 2009.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


US Missiles Missed Anwar al-Awlaki by Inches in Yemen

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Just days after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the U.S. came within inches of taking out the next big target on their terror hit list, the man considered the biggest threat to America.

It was a tip from the Yemeni government that sent U.S. aircraft over the wilds of southern Yemen's Shabwa province in search of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical Islamic cleric and al Qaeda leader who has been linked to several deadly plots against America.

ABC News has learned that on May 5, the U.S. military dispatched a fearsome array of heavily armed warplanes including Marine Harrier jets, predator drones and a special operations aircraft carrying short range Griffin missiles to follow a pickup truck in which Awlaki was a passenger.

But unlike the successful mission that eliminated bin Laden, this raid would be marred by what an official described to ABC News as a series of "errors." Crews tracking Awlaki were unable to keep the laser from the targeting pod, which guides missiles into their targets, locked on the moving truck. The first missile came, launched from the special operations aircraft, missed.

The miss gave Awlaki time to call additional al Qaeda operatives for help. More vehicles descended on the area to confuse those tracking him.

With Harriers and a predator drone still overhead, the U.S. fired another missile at Awlaki. This time a huge fireball engulfed the pickup truck. The U.S. military trackers thought they had their man.

But then they watched, stunned, as the truck drove straight out of the fireball to safety. The missile had only grazed the back bumper.

The Harriers, which were almost out of gas, had to leave. The remaining aircraft tried to keep following Awlaki to take another shot. But then cloud cover got in the way. Awlaki was able to exploit a moment of hesitation while the targeting pods and the surveillance aircraft were refocusing to jump out of his pickup truck and move to another.

When the U.S. did finally manage to hit the original truck with missiles, killing the men inside, Awlaki was not one of them. Two operatives died, but Awlaki got away. There has been no sign of him since.

In early 2010, the Obama administration authorized the CIA and the U.S. military to kill Awlaki even though he is a U.S. citizen. Born in New Mexico, Awlaki moved to Yemen in 2004. Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad said he was inspired by Awlaki, and accused Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan exchanged emails with Awlaki. In January 2010, Awlaki said he had had contact with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be "underwear bomber" accused of trying to blow up Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Drone Hits First Al Qaeda Target in Yemen Since 2002

U.S. Air Force(SANAA, Yemen) -- The immediate question that came to mind when it was announced Thursday that a U.S. Predator drone struck an al Qaeda target in Yemen was if it had anything to do with the trove of intelligence found at the Pakistani compound of Osama bin Laden last Sunday.

After all, the attacks that killed two al Qaeda operatives were the first there by a drone since 2002.

The short answer is no.  Officials say the mission in the mountainous Yemeni governorate of Shabwa was independent of the intelligence taken from bin Laden's lair.

While the U.S. has launched cruise missiles at terrorist targets into Yemen from Navy ships and has used unmanned drones to patrol areas of the country, this was the first time the Predator attacked militants in nine years.

This could potentially be the start of a long campaign against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the offshoot group of the terrorist organization based in Yemen that has attempted several bomb attacks against the U.S. over the past 16 months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Approves Use of Armed Predator Drones Over Libya

AFPI/US AIR FORCE/US AIR FORCE/kb/jim/jim, mc(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has given approval for two armed American Predator drones to operate over Libya, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The U.S. has flown armed drones in Libya for the past several weeks, but they have been used only for surveillance. They will now be used to strike Gadhafi's forces as part of the civilian protection mission.

British, French and Italian forces have already agreed to step up their efforts to aid the rebels.

The use of drones is significant, too, because it marks the United States' return to using force for civilian protection mission for the first time since shortly after the U.S. handed full authority of the mission over to NATO last month. Bombing drops by U.S. planes that have taken place since then were only to take out Gadhafi's air defenses for the separate no-fly zone enforcement mission.

American forces are helping to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, aiding rebel forces struggling against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The drones, aircraft without pilots that the U.S. military has also used in Afghanistan and over Pakistan, will be used to root out Gadhafi forces that are burrowed into urban areas. Their first mission was to be Thursday but they didn't drop any bombs and the mission was curtailed because of bad weather.

Gates, appearing at the Pentagon Thursday with Marine Gen. James Cartwright, said these drones have the capability to fly lower than piloted AC-130 gunships and better identify targets of Gadhafi forces burrowed into urban areas with less threat of collateral damage. They're also able to stay on a target for much longer than a plane can, and they can be in the air all day long.

Cartwright noted that the nature of the fight has changed recently, with the conflict taking place more now in urban areas near civilian populations.

Gates would not say where the drones will fly from, but he said they are based "in theater." He said they did not come from Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: US Deploying Predator Drones in Yemen

Photo Courtesy - United States Air Force

(WASHINGTON) -- The Washington Post reports the U.S. has Predator drones deployed in Yemen but has fired no missiles because government officials have no solid intelligence telling them where to shoot.  The Post, quoting unnamed U.S. government sources, says the unmanned Predator aircraft have been there for months but without clear information on al Qaeda operatives' whereabouts, there is no point in shooting. 

The drones would target a branch of al Qaeda that claims to be behind several attacks on U.S. targets that could have been disastrous, had they succeeded.  They include the recent attempt to detonate packages aboard cargo planes and the 2009 Christmas Day attempt to blow up a commercial airliner.

A senior administration official tells the Post that leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have gone into hiding after a series of U.S. cruise missile attacks augmented by Yemeni forces.

Pressed on whether the drones would be free to shoot, a second administration official reportedly said, "The only thing that does fall into the 'no' category right now is boots on the ground."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio