Warplanes: September 21, 2001


The loss of a Predator Recon Drone over Iraq has been declared a combat loss, a technicality that allows the Pentagon to buy another one right away. There was some question that the aircraft might have been lost due to engine failure. The US isn't overly concerned over the loss of the Predator; the technology is "off the shelf" just so that nothing which falls into enemy hands will be an intelligence boost. The US lost a Predator over Bosnia in 1995 and at least two more over Kosovo and Serbia in 1999. There is growing concern that Iraq may shoot down more Predators and could eventually hit a manned aircraft. Another Predator crashed in Kosovo on 30 March when the pilot did not engage the heating system fast enough to prevent ice from making him lose control.--Stephen V Cole


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