American surveillance drones have been flying over the Tunisia-Libya border to tackle threats by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said late Tuesday. He said that the drones will use his country's military bases for Tunisia's benefit. In a local television interview, Essebsi said that the U.S. drones were unarmed and they were flying over the border on Tunisia's request. It remained unclear that whether the aircraft flew across Libyan territory. Last month U.S. government sources told Reuters that American drones have started flying missions into Libya from a Tunisian air base.
A California startup called Zipline International has announced a partnership with the government of Rwanda to use its fixed-wing cargo drones to deliver medical supplies to remote health clinics in the East African nation. The Zip aircraft is made by Bay Area startup Zipline, which will begin drone delivery of blood and medicine to remote Rwandan clinics later this year. SAN FRANCISCO-- How's this for a flight plan to get a drone delivery service financially aloft? Carry cargo that's of live-saving importance, fly long-range fixed-wing aircraft in uncongested skies, and score a government as your first client. That's the atypical approach being taken by Zipline, a Bay Area startup that has raised 18 million in funding from Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and others.
Crowded airspace and complicated regulations have so far stalled drone deliveries in the United States, but in Rwanda -- where the flight paths are clearer and the red tape a little thinner -- drones are ready for takeoff courtesy of a partnership between UPS, Zipline and Gavi. The Rwandan government has signed a deal with the California-based robotics company Zipline to make its country the first ever to use a drone delivery system on a national scale. Zipline is partnering with the UPS Foundation and Gavi, the nonprofit vaccine alliance, to execute its plan to make up to 150 drone deliveries per day of live-saving blood to 21 health facilities across a broad swath of the western portion of Rwanda. The plan combines Zipline's resilient drone design with the supply chain expertise of UPS and Gavi's experience delivering vaccines to all parts of the world. The deliveries are promised to make it to the designated health facilities in around 30 minutes -- orders of magnitude faster than it takes now.
Today, Zipline is officially opening the first of four distribution centers in Ghana, inaugurating a drone-delivery network that will eventually serve 2,000 hospitals and clinics covering 12 million people. Here's what Zipline says in a press release about the new operation: The revolutionary new service will use drones to make on-demand, emergency deliveries of 148 different vaccines, blood products, and life-saving medications. The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from 4 distribution centers--each equipped with 30 drones--and deliver to 2,000 health facilities serving 12 million people across the country. Together, all four distribution centers will make up to 600 on-demand delivery flights a day on behalf of the Government of Ghana. Each Zipline distribution center has the capacity to make up to 500 flights per day.
One of the top leaders of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror organization in Somalia was killed Thursday when the U.S. military launched an airstrike from a drone, the Pentagon says. The al-Shabab official, Hassan Ali Dhoore, was specifically targeted by U.S. forces for his alleged role in two separate attacks in the capital city of Mogadishu, according to a U.S. Defense Department statement Friday. The airstrike was sanctioned by and conducted in concert with the Somali government, and although additional details of the bombing were not immediately available, the Pentagon asserted that Dhoore's confirmed death deals "a significant blow to al-Shabab's operational planning and ability to conduct attacks against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, its citizens, U.S. partners in the region, and against Americans abroad." The news of Dhoore's demise comes about three weeks after another airstrike against the militant group, when up to 150 al-Shabab members were killed at a training camp in Somalia. Al-Shabab denied the U.S. account, but the Somali prime minister's office confirmed the airstrike.