Sleek and sinister-looking, the latest weapon against piracy could have flown directly out of a science fiction film.
Somali pirates are attacking farther and farther from home; previously safe areas are now very much within range.
The farthest attack from shore has just taken place – an oil tanker managed to evade two skiffs some 1,000 nautical miles (1,850km) off Somalia – 400 nautical miles (741km) north-east of the Seychelles.
In total, close to 200 crew members are being held hostage for ransom and hardly a day passes without news of another attack.
The drone is controlled remotely and can fly up to 18 hours at a time. Its camera is capable of zooming in on suspected pirates from heights of up to 50,000 feet…
The deployment of the MQ 9 Reaper is an initiative of the US Africa Command (Africom) which is based in Stuttgart, Germany…
The deployment of these remote controlled drones will be taken by some as evidence that Africom does not necessarily need a huge base in Africa to get its work done.
It is hoped that the data collected by the US drones will make it easier for the international anti-piracy task force to capture the pirates red-handed.
RTFA. I know, I know. Evidence gathering for trials in Africa is still pretty frustrating for those who occasionally support frontier justice.