Russian, Chinese acts lead Pentagon to increase drone flights by 50 percent over decade
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Faced with escalating aggression from Russia and China, the Pentagon is planning to increase its use of drones by about 50 percent over the next several years, using the Army and civilian contractors to put more of the unmanned aircraft in the air.
The decision to add Army and civilian-operated missions to the mix was triggered because the Air Force — which had been running about 65 combat air patrol missions a day — asked to decrease that number to 60 because of stress on the force. But 60 patrols don't come close to meeting the demands of top military commanders facing growing security threats around the world.
Senior U.S. officials said that while drones have been used largely to target terrorists and collect intelligence over combat zones, those needs may shift in the coming years.