US concerned about Iran drone program

AFP/The Australian:

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has expressed concern over Iran's aerial drone program, saying the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

"Countries like Iran are developing their own UAVs and already have a UAV capability," Mr Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee, using the acronym the military uses for drones - Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

"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."

Drones however "are relatively slow fliers and we have a very capable Air Force", Mr Gates said.

"So I actually think that our ability to protect our troops from these things, particularly in a combat theatre like this is quite good."

The main concern, he said, was that terrorists could get hold of the drones.

...

While our air force is quite capable, it has not been allowed to use many of its assets recently in Afghanistan. But I do think the drones would be vulnerable to attack. Israel shot down a Hezballah drone during the 2006 war.

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