CONGRESS POURS MORE MONEY INTO KILLER DRONES

The 2019 Pentagon budget puts $9.39 billion into drone weaponry of all kinds, according the Bard budget analysis mentioned above, with funding for the MQ-9 Reaper drone, the workhorse of drone killing, coming in at $1.44 billion, a $200 million increase from the previous year. 

The Reaper, the report says, “remains the single largest drone (unmanned weapon) budget item.”  Under the new budget, 29 new Reapers will be built, to replace “lost or unusable aircraft”, according to the report.  The Air Force is believed to have over 300 Reapers.

The budget also includes $43 million for “procurement and research funding for specialized payloads” for Reapers for use by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).   This outfit, according to Wikipedia, conducts “covert and clandestine missions”, such as the night raids that have been condemned in Afghanistan.  A SOCOM night raid in Yemen in 2017 that resulted in the killing of 30 civilians, a Navy SEAL and six US troops injured.

The 2019 drone budget also includes $262 million for building 10 more of the Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, a hardier version of the MQ-1 Predator killer drone that is being retired from Air Force duty.  The Army is believed to currently have about 140 Gray Eagles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Atomics_MQ-1C_Gray_Eagle

The airframes for the Reaper and Gray Eagle are built by General Atomics, a privately held company based in San Diego, CA.