> our title:

Pentagon Plans 50% Increase In Drone Missions By 2019

> original title:

Pentagon Eyes Sharp Increase In Drone Flights By 2019 –Official (excerpt)

(Source: Reuters; published Aug 17, 2015)

The Pentagon is planning a sharp increase in daily drone flights over conflict zones around the globe in the next four years as it tries to meet the reconnaissance and air strike needs of combatant commanders, a spokesman said on Monday.

Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Defense Department spokesman, said the number of unmanned drone flights, known as combat air patrols, would be increased by about 50 percent by 2019 - from between 60 and 65 a day to about 90.

"We've seen a steady demand signal from all of our geographic combatant commanders to have more of this capability," Davis told reporters at the Pentagon.

The planes are used in the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, in the conflict in Afghanistan, against extremist groups like al Shabab in Somalia and to gather intelligence in the Pacific.

The plan to expand flights of drones like the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper comes despite recent warnings from a senior Air Force commander that the drone fleet and its operators were being stretched to the breaking point.

Davis said because of those concerns the Air Force sought to reduce the strain on the fleet by reducing the daily number of drone flights to 60 from 65. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.