U.S. Military Remotely Piloted Aircraft Lost Over Libya

U.S. Military Remotely Piloted Aircraft Lost Over Libya
An MQ-9 Reaper flies over the Nevada Test and Training Range, July 15, 2019.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Haley Stevens)

The U.S. military said late Friday that an unmanned drone was lost over the Libyan capital this week. The “remotely piloted aircraft” was lost over Tripoli on Thursday, U.S. Africa Command said in a brief statement. The drone was not armed.

The military said the incident remains under investigation. The type of drone and more details about the aircraft lost were not disclosed.

The aircraft, whose type was not unveiled, was taking part in operations in Libya “to assess the ongoing security situation and monitor violent extremist activity. These operations are critical to counter-terror activity in Libya and are fully coordinated with appropriate government officials.”

The U.S. drone was lost the day after the Italian Air Force lost another unarmed MQ-9A Predator-B drone southeast of Tripoli. While the LNA According to the Italian Defense, the unmanned aircraft was flying in support of “Operazione Mare Sicuro” (Italian for “Safe Sea” on a route that was known to the Libyan authorities.

However, the Italian version is denied by the Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman who stated that the Italian drone was shot down by the LNA force as it was deliberately operating in the area of Tarhouna, quite far from the Libyan coastline.

While both incidents are being investigated and no additional details have been disclosed, most sources seem to agree that the drones were not lost to enemy fire; according to unverified rumors, both were lost due to jamming, suggesting the deployment of systems able to disrupt signals used to control UAVs.

Since 2015, Libya has been divided between two governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in the country’s east.

In September U.S. Africa Command carried out four airstrikes in the country, targeting what it said were “ISIS-Libya terrorists” — a name by which the Islamic State terror group is also known.

The most recent strike was in southern Libya on Sept. 29, when it said 7 were killed.

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