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U.S. Using Armed Predator Drones Over Libya

by John Reed on April 21, 2011

In light of the increased demand for a return of U.S. air power over Libya, despite the fact that U.S. jets are apparently available, the White House has given the green-light for the use of armed MQ-1 Predator drones in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright said today.

The drones, armed with Hellfire antitank missiles will apparently make it easier to nail Gadhafi’s forces who have confounded recent air attacks by using civilian vehicles and positioning themselves very close to civilians.

From the AP:

“President Obama has said that where we have some unique capabilities, he is willing to use those,” Gates said. “And in fact he has approved the use of armed Predators.”

“What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions,” Cartwright said. “They are uniquely suited for urban areas.”

Apparently, the very first armed Predator mission happened earlier today but the plane had to abort the sortie due to bad weather.

While there’s been much fretting about the inneffectiveness of NATOs airstrikes in stopping Gadhafi’s onslaught, the drones, with their improved accuracy and ISR capability, could prove to be a serious boost for the rebel cause.  One big question will be; how many Predators will be sent to Libya and where will they come from?

Until now, the Pentagon has been desperately focused on getting as many UAVs as possible sent to Iraq or Afghanistan/Pakistan. How will deploying Pedators to Libya impact operations farther east? Maybe these Predators are being pulled from combat as they are replaced by the more advanced MQ-9 Reaper. Or, maybe these UAVs are being pulled from Special Operations squadrons that operate around the globe. Still, you’ve got to ask how many of  them exist, and again, how will that impact other ops?

This comes the same day as reports that the rebels have taken a strategic border crossing into Tunisia and the same week that France, Italy and the UK announced they will be sending military advisors to train the rag-tag rebel army on non-combat functions such as logistics .

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

spammy April 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

How does Obama's statement that we have "Unique Capabilities" dovetail with his globalism doctrine which is counter to "American Exceptionalism".

I thought everyone was exceptional!?!

You mean everybody doesn't have a MQ-1 Predator Drone?

Oh, No! We're exceptional! We can't have that! We should start handing them out like M&Ms on the street corners of the world so that everyone's equal!

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Jacob April 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm

The problem with American exceptionalism is that it encourages Americans to act like little 9 year-old dweebs and to go online to brag about how we're the most powerful country in the world.

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Danny Johi April 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Because we are…….

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@ohfuckinreally April 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

oh ho ho. You my friend, like most Americans, will be in for a rude shock in the coming months. Can you say wiped out 401k? Those who do not drink kool aid will be safe.

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Gregory Savage April 22, 2011 at 8:36 am

I think every other country reads the articles and secretly have jealousy in their heart. There is nothing like a predator yet of European design for instance.

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IronV April 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I'm getting really bored with this loony FOX News "American Exceptionalism" doctrine. "We're better than everybody else." What the hell kind of political philosophy is that? It's a ridiculous pseudo-doctrine that has no place in any real political or military debate.

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hub April 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm

It never fails to amaze me; I'm as far removed from military geniuses as I can get, but I wonder why it took so long for NATO to figure-out it did NOT have any ground-support 'crafts……it's just stupifying to witness this stupidity. Now, John McCain has to be the voice of reason, I reckon.

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bob February 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm

YOU ARE STUPID. HOPE YOU NEVER EVER BECOME PRISDENT

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Bredman April 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I could care less about the politics of it all. This is going to provide more great information for US forces on how to employ these armed drowns in a hostile region where shoulder fired anti-air missles are readily available.

I see this as a great learning tool for future US conflicts under similar conditions, if I recall correctly drones were used in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the initial invasions, but the widespread use of armed drones was not full steam. It's a great place to employ and develop some relatively sound tactics with these weapons in a place with minimal danger to US personel.

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Dave M April 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Just how low are the predators getting compared to manned aircraft?

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David April 21, 2011 at 8:22 pm

They are not getting low. They are using their targeting pods from high up as well as their loitering ability and slow speed to clearly identify targets and then fire from high up.

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camille chamoun April 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm

WHAT EVER IT TAKES ,SAVE THE CIVILIANS
YOU ALL NOW WHERE HE IS HIDING 5
MINUTES JOB HE IS GONE ……..DO IT …. YES IT IS EASY….

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jamesb April 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Ok….lets look at the BIG picture please…

The pakistani's has asked the US to STOP Predator flights over their skys…..
Comeon where do you think those assets are going for the time being until thety straighten things out?

Most of the time things are NOT complicated….

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Zap April 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Ok then time to take bets on how long it will be before they bomb the rebels or a wedding

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Gregory Savage April 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

Your an idiot.

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Gregory Savage April 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

you're

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@ohfuckinreally April 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

They already did a while back. Accidentally bombed some rebels lol

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Kyle April 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Our fearless leader Obama is a worse military leader than even L. Johnson if that is even possible.

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Gregory Savage April 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

facts reasons, or just mindless rants?

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IronV April 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Really? Well it would be hard to do worse than the Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney "Triad of Horrific Incompetence," wouldn't it? Need I remind of the grotesquely bungled invasion of Iraq? And the resulting criminal neglect of the REAL War no Terrorism? Oh yeah, then there's little thing about there turning out to be no weapons of mass destruction, and thus no reason to lose 5000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis… So how does Obama look as a "military leader" compared to that? PRETTY DAM GOOD!

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crackedlenses April 23, 2011 at 11:08 am

Obama can't even win the Libyan war; at least Bush would have gone in with overwhelming firepower and the rebels would now own the country. Obama can't even decide whether to be involved or to not be involved……

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IronV April 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Man. You didn't pay much attention to the Bush administration did you? They repudiated The Powell Doctrine (overwhelming firepower) with contempt. One of the many reasons the Invasions of Iraq and especially the action in Afghanistan went so badly is they REFUSED to use "overwhelming firepower." There is no "libyan war." We're particpating appropriately in an international action. It's a vague, fine line to be sure. But I think we're doing it just right…

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Speak Truthfully April 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm

"Drones" is not accurate. "UAV" is outdated. RPA is current: Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

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Yeni Bolatimi April 22, 2011 at 7:44 am

i beleive
with God all things our possible so people should should support obama, the drones should not be use on civilian they need to be protected from time to time but Gadafi regime must come to an end.

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steve April 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

They should have been using them long ago.The hell with what the villagers think ,they all want the extremist gone then let us send them to Allah!

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JDC April 22, 2011 at 9:32 am

Anyone heard where they are going to base these things? Have to have boots on the ground there. Italy?

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alkef April 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm
jamesb April 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

probably….

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dude April 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm

well jack that aint the anwser
if you want to clean this whole thing up you need to get your whole state togther and sit in a oatmeal bath and and sing the happy birthday song with dog on are heads and hop on ten arms
now mac that how you fix this whole thing .

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Lance April 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm

While they can destroy up to 2 other tanks or BM-21s the hundred of others Qaddafi has may over whelm what few UAVs we have left to send to Libya? and the fact Qaddafi's men have SA-7s and ZSU-23s to easily shoot down UAVs weapons Iraqi and Afghan terrorist never had. Why keep backing these wackos don't let one side win. they both hate us for not being Muslim so why support one side have them blow each other into the next life.

Obama is playing politics with our military again im so tired of this.

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IronV April 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

But you had no problem with horrifically bungled invasion of Iraq that cost 5000 American lives, 50000 maimed Americans and untold Iraqi casualties… for no reason at all. But sending Predators to fight a truly evil dictator is "playing politics with our military."

Go figure.

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noquarter April 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Um, Saddam wasn't an evil dictator? Might want to ask the Kurds about that one. I'm not saying we aren't justified in our actions in Libya (I believe we are) but to say we have justification to attack Libya because they have an evil dictator but we had "no reason at all" seems inconsistent to me.

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IronV April 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

To your point, we should have relied on tac air to contain and degrade Hussein. Obama's walking this line just right…

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crackedlenses April 23, 2011 at 11:11 am

It was the nation-building plan that flopped; Saddam had an army to attack, more or less. Sometimes I wish we would have treated Iraq like Japan after we nuked them….

OMEGATALON April 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I wonder how the US Government would feel if Libya, Venezuela or Iran started to fly Predator like aircraft and began bombing targets in Washington DC as they could consider members of the US Government as being terrorists and criminals.

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IronV April 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Your ability to think critically is non-existent. There is no analogy for reasons too many to cite…

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jamesb April 23, 2011 at 2:47 am

they'd shot the suckers down…period…..

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Tim April 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

They would be immediately shot down in international airspace just beyond their country's airspace. The difference between those countries and the USA is that at least without the USA you wouldn't have the Internet to express your anti-American view. Try to go to Iran and express your anti-regime view and find out for yourself.

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IronV April 22, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Your analysis flies in the face of reality. Thus far, the rebellions are fueled overwhelmingly by secular, apolitical, and pluralistic movements. And I'd certainly take the crap from Obama over the previous administration's crap that ignored the real war on terrorism and cost American lives, money and prestige for NO REASON whatsoever.

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crackedlenses April 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

And who are you suggesting we go after, since Bush "failed" to fight terrorism?…..

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Darek April 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I think that so bunker of argumentation Gadhafi is under building of govermment television.Green Beret is alive yet and Neavy Seals away stil !!!!!

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Darek April 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Neavy Seals away still of course!

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anthony April 25, 2011 at 7:16 am

Navy Seals are were you least expect them,green berret are the same way,these men might be in the Npole but they know whats hapenning..

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anthony April 25, 2011 at 7:18 am

That kadaffi is wel hidden or is he out of the country and are the rebels fighting the generals troops???

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Dr. P April 25, 2011 at 7:30 am

The best thing about the predators is they dont have a wife and children at home,same as cruise missiles.

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Lee Ann Newton April 25, 2011 at 10:29 am

While it would be great to turn a blind eye to all these little dictators and their treachery, we are in bed with the oil states and it is in our national interest to make sure they don't forget us. It isn't how I would like it but world politics is complicated and if the oil stopped flowing most Americans would begin hollaring loudly and be ready to do whatever it took to get it flowing again. I support sustainable energer in ever way but we just aren't there yet folks. So unfortunately we have unsavory bedfellows and our politics turn on a dime depending on regional sentiment – sad but true.

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Darek April 25, 2011 at 11:50 am

It was one should check what satellite signals it emits this government television Gadhafi at bank is the bunker of argumentation there

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axman April 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

screw them all

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Big red April 27, 2011 at 12:02 am

How come nobody remembers a little history, Gadafiy has not slept in the same tent any where with all the military outposts with his highly paid so called military regime. They even dress like him and put make up on to look like him; lots of his men are used for diversion to move on every day or night. He never stays 2 days in the same place, and he enjoys it. plus using different vehicles. what ever looks the same without standing out to really identify him. It's the kind of life he has had all his life. Even under ground he don't stay 2 days, sometimes he moves and spends part of the day & moves on again. Pretty good security for himself and enjoys it. We're going to have one hell of a time to actually know his exact where abouts to hit , destroy, & get an absolute verification of the results. He blends in where ever he goes. What we see are tapes or vidieos of the past tense or his predictions, whatever He wants or whatever malarky .he comes up with, talks with a forked tongue. Let them hash out what they have been fighting for and pay their own expenses to do it…… The rest of the countries that were helping is a no win catergory.

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Black Ops Orr Whaa ? April 27, 2011 at 11:52 am

Fuck Those Peeople Up Dawg !

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jeffrey April 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm

well if you knew the facts about libya you would also agree that dictator regime are quickly becoming a thing of the past and if a man or a women decided to want freedom like us then we should help them but just because they need us like the rest of the devoping world doesnt mean that POTUS has a muslim agenda (is there any thing in that skull of yours beside meat)

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bob February 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm

they were armed in the video games before they were armed in life. did they get this ideay from modern warefare.

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William C. February 21, 2012 at 1:57 am

MQ-1 Predators were first deployed with Hellfires back in the initial campaign in Afghanistan in 2002 IIRC.

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IronV April 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Wrong. While Rumsfeld refused to allow his commanders to even PLAN for post invasion strategy, the invasion itself was FUBAR from the get-go. Horrifically planned, under resourced and thoroughly myopic. Standing in stark contrast to Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom will be studied for years as a specimen of abject incompetence and failure… Only the talent and tenacity of American field troops may yet pull this thing out.

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crackedlenses April 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Somehow what you are saying sounds recycled; not arguing facts, just that you sound like you are parroting talking points….

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IronV April 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Fact: The Bush Administration repudiated the Powell Doctrine. Fact: The invasion of Iraq was bungled beyond belief. Too few forces, too little planning, and intelligence that was so bad it boggles the mind. Fact: No understanding of Iraqi society. Fact: No weapons of mass destruction. Fact: No occupation planning. Fact: Ammo dumps, nuclear facilities unguarded and open to wholesale looting. Fact: 5000 dead Americans and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis FOR NOTHING. Fact: Afghanistan and the real war on terrorism goes neglected for 8 years.

"Recycle" that…

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