Remotely piloted aircraft operations conducted by AFRICOM were interrupted in Tripoli, Libya, Thursday evening as the US military force found itself unable to maintain contact with its unarmed aircraft.
“RPA operations are conducted in Libya to assess the ongoing security situation and monitor violent extremist activity,” read an AFRICOM press release published one day after the incident. “These operations are critical to counter terror activity in Libya and are fully coordinated with appropriate government officials.”
The Italian Air Force also experienced a snag in its reconnaissance missions earlier this week after an MQ-9 Reaper drone was downed in Libya on Wednesday.
Defense News detailed that while some initial reports claimed the drone belonged to Turkey, was operating on behalf of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord and was shot down by the Libyan National Army, Italian military general staff later confirmed the drone belonged to them.
Furthermore, Italy claimed the aircraft was operating as part of Operation Mare Sicuro - an anti-human trafficking mission - when “contact was lost with the Italian Air Force drone, which subsequently crashed in Libyan territory” despite “following a flight plan previously communicated to Libyan authorities.”
Like AFRICOM, the Italian Air Force has launched an investigation into the matter.