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'US to give Pakistan 85 drones'
Fri, 22 Apr 2011 11:50:45 GMT
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A US soldier in Iraq prepares to launch a Raven drone.
The United States will supply Pakistan with 85 small surveillance drones, amid rising tensions between the two countries over aerial attacks that have left hundreds dead.

The plan, announced by a US official speaking on condition of anonymity, is part of the US military aid to Pakistan in 2011 which is estimated to be nearly USD 3 billion, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday.

The short-range surveillance aircraft called “Raven,” is produced by the US-based AeroVironment Company. It weighs 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) and is launched by hand and powered by an electric motor.

Raven drones can be either remotely controlled or fly autonomous missions using GPS. They can provide day or night aerial intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance.

Another US official, who did not want to be named, said Washington also plans to supply Pakistan with larger, longer-range surveillance drones. The plan was put forward by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January 2010.

The US Central Intelligence Agency is presently utilizing the lethal drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, claiming they are used to attack Taliban militants. However, many civilians have been killed in the strikes so far.

Pakistani authorities have strongly condemned the attacks and urged Washington to stop them. US intelligence officials recently announced they have no plans to halt the drone strikes.

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