The United States plans to provide Pakistan with 85 small “Raven” drone aircraft in response to the Pakistanis’ requests for access to U.S. drone technology, says a report by Reuters news service.
The information on the U.S.’ plan to supply Pakistan with the drone aircraft was provided by a U.S. military official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity. While the number of Ravens was provided, the officials declined to disclose the cost of the non-lethal, short-range surveillance aircraft, which are manufactured by the U.S.-based AeroVironment Inc., says the Reuters’ report.
Pakistan is expected to receive roughly $3 billion in U.S. military aid in the upcoming fiscal year, and the plan to provide the drone aircraft is described as a U.S. move to increase military ties with Pakistan, long considered an ally in the fight against al Qaeda.
In addition to the Raven, AeroVironment produces the “Wasp” and “Puma” unmanned aircraft systems. AeroVironment says the Raven is used by U.S. allies including Italy, Spain and Norway, and is one of the most widely utilized unmanned aircraft in the world. While the cost of the 85 Raven drones remains undisclosed, on its website AeroVironment says on April 11, 2011 it signed a deal for $11.5 million with the United States Special Operations Command for an undisclosed number of Pumas and training services for that aircraft.