remains a nation closely watched by the United States and the rest of
the western world, especially now that the country is developing a
more sophisticated unmanned drone program. U.S. Defense Secretary
Robert Gates is concerned with the progress of Iranian drone
development, and there is a growing concern the drone technology
could be sold to terrorist groups."Countries like Iran
are developing their own UAVs and already have a UAV capability,"
said Gates, speaking in front of the Senate Appropriations
Committee. "That is a concern, because it is one of these
areas where -- if they chose to, in Iraq, in Afghanistan -- they
could create difficulties for us."The country began
development in February, seeking to manufacture "advanced"
UAVs able to conduct surveillance and coordinated strikes.
Furthermore, if the country is successful in developing nuclear
weapons, there is a grave concern the drones could one day be used to
attack major targets. Even so, the U.S. military has an
advanced air fleet that should be capable of shooting down the drones
according to military analysts.The U.S. military continually
uses UAVs in coordinated airstrikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and
Pakistan, with the Pakistani military expected to receive UAV
technology from the U.S. Russia also
is developing advanced UAVs for future use, with European
news reports specifically mentioning their use to prevent attacks
from terrorists based in Chechnya.It's also possible UAVs
will be used to patrol
the Somali coast to help locate and identify pirates before
they are able to hijack commercial vessels.