The skies over the United States were a little more crowded than usual following a test by the Department of Defense that sent more than 100 drones scattering across the sky, according to a report from the BBC. A total of 103 of the miniature, unmanned flying vehicles were released from a trio of Three F/A-18 Super Hornets, a popular Navy fighter aircraft. Called Perdix drones, the flyers have a wingspan of just 12 inches and move entirely autonomously--no human control required. Footage of the devices in action from October 2016, taken from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, was recently released by the Department of Defense. In it, the drones can be seen being released into the sky and swarming together, making use of the collective brain that controls them.
A U.S. drone strike targeting the Afghan Taliban's commander, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, led to the leadership council meeting Sunday to discuss succession, two Taliban sources told Reuters. Pakistani local residents gather around a destroyed vehicle hit by a drone strike, in which Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was believed to be travelling, in the remote town of Ahmad Wal in Balochistan, around 100 miles west of Quetta, May 21, 2016. Confirming the attack, reportedly authorized by Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference Sunday, "Yesterday, the United States conducted a precision air strike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border." Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and defense ministry spokesman Daulat Waziri also gave similar statements.
The data shows just how much American forces have come to rely on the unmanned vehicles to carry out missions in the Middle East and abroad, even while human rights organizations and some foreign governments have raised concerns over what they call an unnecessary amount of civilian casualties. Drone account for a huge amount of air strikes, proportionally, compared to just five years ago, according to the data reviewed by Reuters, making up 56 percent of air attacks in 2015 compared to 5 percent in 2011. The use of drones to carry out American military interests has been a very divisive issue. While those in favor say the drones reduce risk for U.S. troops and requires less manpower in the region, critics say the tools -- which could theoretically be controlled from anywhere in the world -- cause unnecessary civilian casualties.
China and Russia said Monday that the South China Sea dispute should not be internationalized and called for its settlement based on negotiation and consultation, Beijing's official Xinhua News reported. Meanwhile, Hugo Swire, the British minister of state responsible for East Asia, said earlier in the day that a ruling -- expected in May or early June -- in the Philippines' international arbitration case against China's South China Sea claims must be binding. On Sunday, a Chinese military aircraft made the first public landing on the Fiery Cross Reef of the South China Sea. "We're aware that a Chinese military aircraft landed at Fiery Cross Reef on Sunday in what China described as a humanitarian operation to evacuate three ill workers," Pentagon spokesman Capt.
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. Al-Shabab denied the U.S. account, but the Somali prime minister's office confirmed the airstrike. Al-Shabab, an Islamic extremist group of militants, has been terrorizing the region for about the past decade and typically targets the Somali government, as exemplified by Thursday's suicide bombing that took place as the assailant hugged a local official.