Washington, Sep 13 : The United States is deploying Predator aircraft equipped with sophisticated new surveillance systems to counter terrorism in Pakistan, US military and intelligence officials have said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the use of specially equipped drones' come amid a fundamental shift in US strategy in the area - unilateral American military operations - a gambit that could increase pressure on terrorists but risks alienating a country that has been a key counter-terrorism ally.
In an indication of prioritising the Pakistan campaign, US officials said the specially equipped aircraft were being pulled from other theatres to augment aerial patrols above the Tribal Areas.
Predator is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which the United States Air Force describes as a MALE (medium-altitude, long-endurance) UAV system.
It can serve in a reconnaissance role and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, and Yemen. It is remote-controlled by humans, not an autonomous aircraft.
The fully operational system consists of four air vehicles (with sensors), a ground control station (GCS), a Predator primary satellite link communication suite, and 55 people.