Last week, it seemed like a bit of an odd move, the Air Force rush-ordering a slew of armed Predator drones. After all, the unmanned planes hadn't taken out a major target since 2002. And since then, they've been mostly relegated to spy duty.Or so we thought.Newly-released footage shows that the Predators have been actively battling Iraqi guerillas, "firing Hellfire missiles to rescue U.S. troops under fire in Iraq and destroy insurgent targets," according to CNN.
The U.S. Air Force released 10 video clips... all from the summer and fall of 2004, show[ing] what officials say are insurgents planting roadside bombs, firing at U.S. positions and gathering to attack U.S. troops... The video came from sensors on Air Force Predator unmanned aerial vehicles...Some of the footage was a clip of Marines under sniper assault during an August battle in Najaf. A Predator responds to a call for air support and fires Hellfire missiles at the building housing the sniper. The building crumbles in an explosion.Another clip shows insurgents gathered around armed trucks. The cross-hairs of the Predator locks onto one of the trucks and a missile destroys it...Pilots more than 7,000 away in Nevada, control the unmanned planes from their post at Nellis Air Force Base. Their sophisticated cockpits resemble a high-priced video game.A really violent one. Vehicles lined up in a row are there one minute, and incinerated the next. Floors of building are wiped out. Walls collapse. And city corners go up in flames -- all because of these killer drones.THERE'S MORE: Of course, these Predators aren't the only armed robots reporting for duty in Iraq. While the flying drones blast insurgents from above, by this spring, machine gun-carrying Talon bots will be patrolling the streets of Mosul.