Earlier this week, Iraqi militias spotted a familiar sight in the skies above Anbar province. While Iraq is no stranger to the presence of UAVs, two seen over Daesh-held Fallujah and Haditha were not American Reaper or Predator drones.
Upon inspection, the UAVs were more crude, but nevertheless outfitted with cameras and capable of transmitting surveillance data back to units on the ground. Analysis also showed that the aircraft were capable of covering a distance of at least 42 miles.
According to military sources speaking to Debka File, the frighteningly sophisticated drones belonged to Daesh.
US intelligence had previously speculated that the terrorist organization could be developing UAVs in an industrial plant located outside the Iraqi city of Mosul. But officials did not suspect that the factory could produce flight-ready aircraft this quickly.
Military officials theorize that US-trained Iraqi fighters may have contributed engineering knowledge to Daesh.
Debka File’s intelligence sources also reveal that Daesh is not only interested in surveillance drones, but is also pursuing an armed model capable of carrying missiles or bombs.
During a meeting at Central Command Headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, senior military officers said that the terrorist organization is in the “final stages” of testing armed drones.
It’s also possible that the terrorist organization has retrofitted UAV technology stolen from downed American aircraft. Earlier this month, US Air Forces Central Command admitted that remote pilots lost control of a MQ-1 Predator drone near al Qaim in central Iraq.
While US officials maintain that the aircraft crashed, Daesh militants claim to have shot down the UAV, posting photos of the wreckage.
US Central Command claims that the wreckage was destroyed by an airstrike to keep the technology out of Daesh’s hands.
Two additional US drones were lost over the Middle East last year.