RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Jan. 22, 2010) – The United States plans to provide Pakistan RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles to support their fight on extremists, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates confirmed today during a roundtable session with Pakistani reporters.
The United States has been working with the Pakistani military for more than a year to enhance its own ISR capabilities, Gates said. “We share a lot of information that we acquire on the Afghan side of the border and from our satellites, but we also are trying to help the Pakistanis build their own capabilities.”
In addition to the drones themselves, the United States also will provide training and other capabilities required to “coordinate these platforms and be able to get the maximum possible value out of them,” Gates said.
The secretary first alluded to the new initiative last night, during an interview with Pakistani television reporters, but did not specifically mention the Shadow models, or the fact that a decision had been made about providing them, until today.
A senior defense official traveling with Gates told reporters the United States will provide 12 of the unarmed aircraft to help Pakistan in its offensive on extremists.
“We are trying to do everything we can to assist Pakistan in the fight in the west,” Gates told reporters today.
Funding would come from congressionally appropriated counter-insurgency funds Gates said enable the Defense Department to quickly provide equipment or training to help the Pakistanis in the fight.
Shadow UAVs are extremely popular within the U.S. Army, providing warfighters better situational awareness in their operations. They are relatively small, with a 14-foot wingspan, and have an ability to oversee specific sites and feed video images.