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Predator ready for takeoff
The most common drone is the tiny Raven RC plane

All branches of the U.S. military are moving more and more to drone aircraft to patrol the skies in their respective theaters. Drones are typically cheaper than normal aircraft and don’t put pilots in harm's way over hostile territory. Some drones simply gather intelligence and others are equipped with weapons to attack targets.
 
A new congressional report that Wired has laid hands on has an interesting statistic tucked away inside the dry document. Just about one in every three aircraft the military operates today is a drone (the exact percentage is 31%). The majority of the drones are of relatively small and used for intelligence gathering along the lines of the Raven used by the Army.
 
That Raven is the most common drone in the military arsenal with 5,346 of them in the field. The Raven is a small drone that looks like a toy and is launched by hand, simply by throwing it. The less common, but better known drones in the military arsenal includes the 161 Predator and Reaper drones that are armed and can conduct attack missions.
 
While the number of drones in the fleet is growing, the vast majority of money goes to manned aircraft. Wired reports that 92% of the money allotted to buying aircraft goes to manned systems. The total money spent on drones by the military since 2001 when adoption first began adds up to a huge number. The military so far has reportedly spent $26 billion on drones.
 
When it comes to losses due to crashes, the military has lost 38 Predator and Reaper drones. It has also lost one of the RQ-170 Sentinel drones that was recently captured by Iran using a GPS hack to force the aircraft to land. As it stands now, once the last of the Predator drones is delivered, the more capable Reaper will be the drone of choice.

Source: Wired





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