A Russian fighter jet collided with a U.S. military drone over the Black Sea today, causing the drone to crash into the water. The American military says the drone was on a routine mission in international airspace when the two Su-27 fighters intercepted and began to interfere with it, repeatedly dumping fuel on it before eventually crashing into it. The drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, has been one of the workhorses of the U.S. military’s unmanned aerial force for more than two decades.
As military technology has advanced, military leaders have searched for a way to take out targets without putting troops in harm’s way. This has led to the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.
These vehicles give militaries the option of bombing targets from the air with no pilot required, at least no pilot onboard. Over 100 countries have some kind of a military drone program, with military powers like China, Russia, and the U.S. constantly updating and innovating their fleets to have the fastest and most powerful drones in the skies.
To find some of the top military drones in the world today, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed several lists from HotCars, AutoJournalism.com, and from The Newsmen. Only drones currently in service or operationally ready were included. Drones are listed in alphabetical order (not considering the manufacturer name).
As with any cutting edge military technology, developing and procuring state-of-the-art drones is an expensive proposition. Military contractors have contracts worth millions – if not billions – of dollars to build drone fleets for militaries across the world. These are the companies profiting the most from war.
Though drone strikes keep pilots and soldiers out of the battlefield, this separation can lead to issues, and the use of drones is controversial. A number of botched U.S. drone strikes have killed civilians. Over the past two decades, drone strikes have killed hundreds if not thousands of non-combatants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, according to groups like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Amnesty International. (These are the wars in which the most Americans died.)
Click here to see 13 of the world’s top military drones
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