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Europe including Spain will use predators to catch pirates in Somalian waters.

Predator -drone- used in Afghanistan.

MADRID — Spain announced plans to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles to target pirates off the coast of Somalia, according to  a report from UPI.

The plan to use unmanned helicopters is featured in military operations that have so far been using submarine-hunting aircraft, shipboard radar and helicopters to spot pirates acting with impunity in the Indian Ocean.

“It’s the first time that Spain will use a remote-controlled patrol in the European mission Atlanta,” Avionews reported recently.

Spain’s Ministry of Defense said that it would be purchasing pilot-less aircraft for the Spanish navy ships patrolling the region as part of the European Union’s campaign to crackdown on piracy. The operation is code-named “Operation Atlanta.”

So far the Spanish navy has been testing the Scan Eagle produced by the Boeing and Initu companies. The aircraft are already used by the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy and the Australian and Canadian forces in Afghanistan, Euroweekly reported.

“The Scan Eagle has a range of 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) and climbs to 4,880 meters (15,748 feet) operating at between 50 and 84 miles an hour, and cruising 90 kilometers (56 miles) an hour,” the Euroweekly news report said.

The report said that the aircraft didn’t require a runway as they are catapult-launched, making them “an ideal choice for use in Operations Atlanta’s surveillance and reconnaissance operations.”

The aircraft is similar to the chopper drones used by U.S. forces to track drug runners by controlling the system from an land base.

Eight EU-member countries participate in the military operation, including Spain.

Other reports suggest the Spanish military is also eying Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8B Fire Scout, an other rendition of unmanned choppers.

While no further details of its purchase plans have been disclosed the Barcelona Reporter said the military expects to spend nearly $20 billion to buy four aircraft for the anti-piracy mission.

Canada’s aerospace giant Bombardier has also developed similar drone choppers specifically designed for anti-piracy operations.

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