Yemen to get 4 RQ-11 Raven UAVs for counter-terrorism fight

Officials in Yemen are awaiting a shipment of four AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven tactical unmanned aerial vehicles to use in the country's counter-terrorism efforts, reports Aviation Week.

An anonymous Yemeni defense official, who did not have clearance to speak with the press, told the media outlet that the UAVs were part of ongoing technology support for the nation's fight against Al Qaeda operatives inside the country.  

The 1.9-kg Raven is outfitted with sensors for target acquisition and infrared cameras capable of displaying persons carrying weapons. It is particularly suited for front-line operations by ground forces to give them real-time intelligence on enemy positions and unfolding threats so that they can avoid surprise attacks, the story said.

The U.S. Defense Department for the most part has kept a tight hold on its UAV technologies, exporting them almost exclusively to close Western allies for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Yet the U.S. did furnish Pakistan with 85 Ravens in 2011, the story said.

Yemen’s elite Counter Terrorism Unit, which is trained and supplied by the United States, lacks the support from the Yemeni Air Force it needs to prosecute counter-terrorism operations, the story said. 

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