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The usefulness of drones in the fight against pirates

(B2) The drone has become one of the Americans' favorite tools in the fight against pirates, according to the US Navy, which is very proud of these unmanned aircraft (UAV). “The drone is a real force multiplier", explains Danielle Fournet, one of the image analysts of the USS Mahan, which is the first anti-missile destroyer to deploy a drone system, fully integrated into the ship's combat systems. “It can fly day or night in an open or disguised posture, which makes it much harder for pirates to hide. (...) It is flexible and very responsive, capable of changing operating areas and changing missions in mid-flight. SThe ability to deliver high quality real-time imagery speeds up decision making and gives a significant tactical advantage to stop piracy on the high seas”. These images can also be shared with other forces present in the area, assures the American Navy.

But everything does not always go so well according to the RIA Novosti agency which relays information published in the Yemeni press. Three drones are said to have crashed in two weeks in Yemen. The latest crashed on the Yemeni island of Socotra, in the Gulf of Aden, on Friday February 20.

The UAVs that equip the Mahan – like most American ships – are “Scan Eagle” manufactured by Insitu and Boeing. Originally designed as a weather instrument or to help fishermen spot schools of tuna, they can stay aloft for between 15 and 20 hours per flight and cost around $100 each.


(photo: US Navy/Kenneth R. Hendrix/2007 – “Scan Eagle” drone on the USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79))

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).