Gates offers Pakistan U.S. drones
Julian E. Barnes, Reporting from Islamabad
Baltimore Sun, January 21, 2010
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has agreed to provide Pakistan with unmanned spy drones, granting a longstanding request as it seeks new ways to persuade a key ally to do more to fight militant groups within its borders.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, on a visit to Pakistan, stopped short Thursday of providing Islamabad with U.S. Predators, the armed drones used to carry out air strikes inside Pakistan that have been denounced by the government, even as it has requested the technology for its own use.
Instead, Defense officials said Washington would provide Pakistan with 12 unarmed Shadow aircraft. While the Shadow drones do not have missile capabilities to strike the targets they observe, they nonetheless represent an advancement in the growing U.S. military relationship with Pakistan.
The step follows efforts by U.S. military officials last year to give Pakistan a feel for the surveillance capabilities of unmanned drones under American supervision.
Shadows, with a 14 foot wingspan, are smaller than Predators. But they have a longer "loiter" time and greater range than the drones Pakistan currently operates.
The question of providing U.S. drone technology is a delicate one for American officials, involving their most successful new military capability in years. While they have shared drone technology with close allies, they have tightly controlled its spread in volatile parts of the world, and have ruled out the possibility of providing Predators to Pakistan in the past.
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Pakistan attacks militant hideout in N.Waziristan - Reuters
Robert Gates brings praise and pressure to Pakistan - Los Angeles Times
Pakistan snubs US over new Taliban offensive - BBC
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