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UAV NEWS
Niger to let US forces arm drones in counter-terrorism fight
by Staff Writers
Niamey (AFP) Nov 4, 2017


US strikes IS in Somalia for first time
Washington (AFP) Nov 3, 2017 - The US conducted a pair of drone strikes against Islamic State fighters in Somalia on Friday, the first time America has hit the jihadists in the Horn of Africa nation, officials said.

The strikes occurred in northeastern Somalia and killed "several terrorists," the US military's Africa Command said in a statement.

According to Voice of America, which cited the chairman of the town of Qandala in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, six missiles hit an IS base in Buqa village, 60 kilometers (35 miles) away.

"Local residents and pastoralists were shocked and fled from the area," Jama Mohamed Qurshe told VOA.

AFRICOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Anthony Falvo said no civilians were in the vicinity of the strikes.

"They struck their intended targets," he told AFP, noting these were the first anti-IS air strikes in Somalia.

The first strike occurred around midnight Somalia time (0300 GMT) with the second strike coming at about 11:00 am (1400 GMT).

In recent months, the US has repeatedly hit Somali jihadists from the Shabaab rebel group that is aligned with Al-Qaeda, but Friday's development marks a significant step in the ever-evolving war against IS.

"US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats," AFRICOM said.

IS claimed its first suicide attack in Somalia in May, killing at least five people as it stepped up activities in a region dominated by the Shabaab.

The militants are led by former Shabaab cleric Abdiqadir Mumin, who switched allegiance from Al-Qaeda to IS in October 2015 and was named a "global terrorist" by the US State Department in August.

Mumin was born in Puntland and lived in Sweden before moving to the UK in the 2000s, where he was granted British citizenship.

Niger will allow US forces stationed in the country to arm the drones being used to track jihadists, having previously allowed their use only for surveillance, the government said Saturday.

The decision comes a month after jihadists ambushed a joint US-Niger patrol in a volatile area near the border with Mali, killing four American soldiers and four Nigerien troops.

But Defence Minister Kalla Moutari said the decision had been taken before the October 4 attack at Tongo Tongo.

"It was a negotiation that had been underway for a while. Arming the drones is an option we decided on before we learned of the tragedy at Tongo Tongo," Moutari told state radio.

"We are dealing with very well-armed groups," he said, and "armed drones are an appropriate and decisive response for fighting terrorism."

Niger had been reluctant to let either the US or French troops on its soil use the drones as weapons, in part because of fears for civilian casualties.

"There is a possibility of mistakes, but there's no such thing as a clean war," Moutari said.

Last month's attack was the deadliest US combat incident since President Donald Trump took office in January, and shocked many Americans unaware of the military presence in the country, which at some 800 soldiers is the largest US deployment in Africa.

On Wednesday, a joint anti-jihadist force linking forces from Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania began operating with support from the French military, aimed at restricting the freedom of movement jihadist groups have had in the region.

The G5 Sahel's activities will initially be confined to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where governments have weak control over remote areas.

The United States this past week pledged $60 million to support the counter-terrorism force.

UAV NEWS
Insitu awarded $9.2M for parts, sustainment of RQ-21A
Washington (UPI) Oct 26, 2017
The Pentagon announced Insitu Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, has been awarded a new $9.2 million firm-fixed price contract for spare and sustainment parts for the RQ-21A Blackjack. The RQ-21 Blackjack is a small tactical unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform used by the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. The RQ-2 ... read more

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