Mar 11, 2015

US Lawmakers Push White House to Sell MQ-1 Predator Drones to Jordan

Members of Congress are pushing the Obama administration to embrace a plan to lend older-model, surplus drones to Jordan for the fight against the Islamic State.
In a Republican-led letter to the White House, 23 House members said Monday that Jordan should be allowed to borrow U.S. Air Force-owned MQ-1 Predator drones.
The Air Force is currently replacing its MQ-1 fleet with the more advanced MQ-9 Reapers, which are more heavily armed. As a result, a portion of the fleet of older Predators is currently not in use, and those drones aren’t considered critical to U.S. missions.
Predators typically carry two Hellfire missiles. A congressional official said that under the plan, the U.S. would loan three or four Predators to Jordan. That would be enough drones to keep at least one aloft around the clock.
Jordan is an active member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and has intensified its involvement after a Jordanian pilot captured by the extremist group was burned to death while locked in a cage.
In meetings with members of Congress, Jordan has requested clearance to purchase armed and unarmed drones from General Atomics.
The U.S. Air Force has a shortage of drone pilots, making it difficult for the U.S. to fly the surplus predators themselves. Jordanian pilots, trained to fly F-16 fighters, could be relatively easily retrained to fly the drones.
Jordanian fighter planes have mostly struck fixed targets in Syria, rather than moving vehicles or other so-called dynamic targets. Acquiring their own drones could expand the range of targets Jordanian forces could strike.

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