Hunting for Pirates

Navy-operated unarmed MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted surveillance aircraft have begun patrolling the waters off of Somalia to stem the threat of pirates to commercial shipping in the western Indian Ocean. The Associated Press reported Oct. 23 (via the Kansas City Star) that the Reaper patrols began last week, citing US military officials. The MQ-9s are operating from the Seychelles. The Navy announced earlier this year that it was dispatching a small contingent of Reapers for this mission. While Vice Adm. Robert Mueller, deputy commander of US Africa Command, told AP that the Reapers will be primarily used for counterpiracy, he acknowledged that they could have other roles. The news service speculated that this could include hunting for terrorists in Somalia.