The United States plans to provide Pakistan with a dozen unarmed drone aircraft that will help bolster its military as it takes on Taliban militants, U.S. defense officials said.
Details of the drones emerged late Jan. 21 during a visit to Pakistan by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was asked in an interview with Pakistani television if Washington would supply Islamabad with the unmanned aircraft.
"There are some tactical UAVs that we are considering, yes," Gates said.
Defense officials in his delegation afterward confirmed funds had been set aside to secure 12 Shadow aerial drones for Pakistan.
The Shadow drones smaller than the armed Predator and Reaper aircraft are about 11 feet long and have a wing-span of 14 feet, with sensors and cameras feeding video images back to operators on the ground.
The Pakistani military already had some less sophisticated drones for surveillance but would need to heavily invest in training specialists to be able to take advantage of the new hardware, said U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.