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US, Coalition Forces Use Remotely Piloted Aircraft in Fight Against Islamic State Group

U.S. military personnel and coalition partners used combat remotely piloted aircraft to counter the Islamic State militant organization in Raqqah, Syria, the U.S. Air Force reported Tuesday.

The aircrews flew combat RPAs such as General Atomics-built MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator for at least 44,000 hours to get a view of the battlefield, locate the friendly forces and perform precision munition strikes through the “buddy lasing” tactic.

“Primarily, we were doing things like close air support, tactical reconnaissance and overwatch of our allies as they fought to take back the city block by block,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas, a squadron commander assigned to Air Force’s 432nd Wing.

“What our aircraft brought that was unique to the fight was persistence,” Nicholas said of the combat RPAs.

Nicholas also cited how the use of the drones in an urban environment provided aircrews visual contact in munition strikes.

The U.S. and coalition forces liberated the city of Raqqa in October four months after they launched an effort to eliminate the militant organization’s strongholds in the city.

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