Pentagon plans to increase drone flights by 50% in next four years

The plan would increase the daily drone flights a daily average of 61 to roughly 90 by 2019

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The Independent US

The Pentagon is planning to expand it’s drone operations over the next four years.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Pentagon wants to dramatically increase US drone flights by 50% to broaden intelligence collection in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, South China Sea and North Africa.

“The Pentagon envisions a combined effort that by 2019 would have the Air Force continue flying 60 drone flights a day, the Army contributing as many as 16 and the military’s Special Forces Command pitching in with as many as four. Government contractors would be hired to fly older Predator drones on as many as 10 flights a day, none of them strike missions,” a senior defense official told WSJ on the condition of anonymity.

A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper stands on the runway during a drone demonstration of at a California Naval base in 2015.

The Air Force, who manages the flights of unmanned drones, would increase its daily flight average from 61 up to 90 by 2019. The increase would be the largest since 2011.

The US drone program has recently come under fire by investigative journalists and human rights advocates, claiming that drone strikes kill far more than their intended targets.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported earlier this month that nearly 6,000 people were killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer for the human rights group Reprieve, told the Guardian in 2014.