Gates says US to supply drone aircraft to Pakistan
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamabad, Jan 23, IRNA -- United States will supply drone aircraft to Pakistan which will ‘significantly enhance country’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities’, US Defense Secretary said here Friday.
Talking to reporters Gates said that twelve RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles will be part of one a billion dollars allocation for Pakistan from its Coalition Support Fund.
He said that the weapons and equipment will also be provided to Pakistan for the war against terrorism.
The Shadow UAVs will help build the Pakistan Army’s capacity for intelligence-gathering, the US defense secretary said.
The Defense Secretary did not reply to the question if the US would impose any condition that the Shadow drones could not be used along Pakistan’s eastern border with India.
Defense analysts say that the Shadow drone is smaller than the pilotless plane the US is using to hit militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
The Shadow is 11.2 feet long and has a wingspan of 14 feet. The latest version of this drone has a range of about 110 kms and an endurance of six hours.
The Pakistani Army already has less sophisticated and indigenously developed drones that it uses for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.
Gates also said the US will soon make a payment of 500 million dollars from the Coalition Support Fund to reimburse Pakistan for its expenses in the war on terror.
Islamabad has been complaining about delays in the reimbursement of its expenses. In related news, President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in thier meetings with Gates, on Thursday called for early payment of the fund.
Zardari told the US defense secretary that Pakistan has suffered 34 billion dollars since the establishment of the US-led coalition in 2001.
End News / IRNA / News Code 912660
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