UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations announced Thursday that it has selected its first unarmed surveillance drone, an Italian-made plane that will be tried out by peacekeepers in eastern Congo, which has been engulfed in conflict for nearly two decades.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the world body’s peacekeeping department chose an unmanned aerial vehicle produced by Selex ES, known as the Falco, which is “capable of carrying a range of payloads including several types of high-resolution sensors.”
The U.N. Security Council gave approval in January for the trial use of unarmed drones for intelligence gathering in eastern Congo. Nesirky said deployment of the medium-altitude, medium-endurance drone is planned in the coming weeks.
In March, the Security Council authorized a new “intervention brigade” with an unprecedented mandate to carry out offensive operations to neutralize armed groups. It is part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, the world body’s largest, with a capacity for nearly 20,000 military and international police.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation of 70 million people that is equal in size to Western Europe, has seen its mineral-rich east engulfed in fighting since the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. More than 1 million Rwandan Hutus fled across the border into Congo, and Rwanda has invaded Congo to take action against Hutu militias there.
Other armed groups have also been engaged in combat, including the M23 rebel group which swept through eastern Congo in 2012 and captured the key city of Goma last November, before pulling out under international pressure. The M23, whose movement began in April 2012 when hundreds of troops defected from the Congolese armed forces, is an incarnation of a group of Congolese Tutsi set up to fight the Rwandan Hutu rebels in Congo.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has said the unmanned aerial vehicles will for the first time give the United Nations state-of-the-art 21st century technology.
Nesirky said it will allow U.N. peacekeepers, especially in eastern Congo, “to monitor the movements of armed groups and protect the civilian population more efficiently.”
If the trial in Congo is successful, U.N. officials have said that drones are likely to be used in other peacekeeping missions, possibly including Ivory Coast and South Sudan.
According to its website, Selex ES has a workforce of about 17,700, total revenues in excess of (EURO)3.5 billion. In addition to major operations in Italy and the U.K., it also operates in the United States, Germany, Turkey, Romania, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and India.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon