The US Air Forces said it has launched a new unmanned aircraft for military use in Somalia.
The unmanned system, dubbed “Avenger,” will provide a capability for monitoring and targeting air defenses, the service said in a statement.
The new Predator drone was designed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and will be deployed at the US airbase in Djibouti, the airbase’s chief of operations, Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Miller, told reporters.
The US military has deployed Predator drones to Somalia, as well as at other bases in Djebouti.
In August, the Pentagon announced that it was acquiring four more Predator drones from Lockheed Martin, bringing the total number of the unmanned aircraft to 22.
The Predator drones are equipped with thermal imaging and laser rangefinders, which allow them to shoot down incoming enemy aircraft.
The Air Force has been testing the new drones at Djiboutsi and elsewhere since July.
The military has been conducting a major modernization effort to modernize its drones in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The air force has been flying a fleet of five Predator drones at the airfield in Djobouti since July, including a squadron of the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.
The Pentagon is also planning to buy three more Predators.
The U.S. has been training and assisting African countries to develop unmanned systems that can carry out ground-to-air attacks, and is looking to replace the aging F-16 fighter jets that are currently being used by the US military.
The F-15E Strike Eagle is the most advanced U. S. fighter jet in the Air Force’s inventory.