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US Strike in Somalia Involved Drone Aircraft: Air Force

The U.S. airstrike estimated to have killed more than 150 al-Shabab fighters at a training camp in Somalia on March 5 involved the use of drone aircraft, an official said.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James briefly discussed the operation on Monday during a State of the Air Force briefing with reporters at the Pentagon.

"On Saturday, we conducted an airstrike in Somalia against an al-Shabab training camp," she said. "This strike was in self-defense and in defense of our African Union mission in Somalia partners. We did use a mix of manned and unmanned platforms."

She added, "As more information becomes available, we will certainly be looking to provide it to you but that is all the information I'm able to provide at this time."

The strike, which happened in the early evening in Somalia, involved both missiles and bombs, the Associated Press reported. The training camp, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of Mogadishu, was destroyed, the AP reported.

James didn't specify the type of platform, though it may have been the MQ-1 Predator or the bigger MQ-9 Reaper, both of which can be used for surveillance or strike missions. In the long-term, the service plans to phase out the Predator for the Reaper, which can fly higher and for longer periods of time.

As of Sept. 30, the Air Force had 337 medium- to high-altitude drones, including 165 MQ-9A Reapers, 139 MQ-1B Predators, both of which are made by General Atomics, based in San Diego, and 33 RQ-4 Global Hawks, manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corp., based in Falls Church, Virginia.

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