Air Force leaders want a new squadron of killer drones, and soon. So the generals are ready to spend $161 million to get the new robots and their weapons right away. According to an Air Force document obtained by Defense Tech, the service is taking millions out of its maintennance budget for this fiscal year, and putting the money instead into 15 new Predator MQ-1 unmanned planes. The added cash will allow production of the drones to rise from one and a half to two planes a month.$7.7 million will be used to fuel the integration of the laser-strike Viper Strike munition into the drones. Another $14.4 million wil buy 140 Hellfire missiles; those are the weapons that a Predator used back in November, 2002 to take out a group of Al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.Since then, there hasn't been much talk about armed Predators on killing missions. But with the Iraqi insurgency dragging on, this new, hurried-up purchase could be a sign that the Air Force is looking to revive the drone's deadliest role.
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