The US Air Force has unveiled its advanced MQ-1 "Predator" drone at a Latvian airbase in Europe.
The drone was showcased at central Lielvarde airbase in the wake of rising tensions in the Baltic states Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict, various media reported today.
Latvian President Raimond Vejonis believes that the interoperability between NATO partners is essential. "It's a good example of smart defence that we can use equipment that we don't currently have," Vejonis said.
But the current deployment is due to last in just two weeks and involves familiarising intelligence staff from the Baltic states, Poland and Germany with the system.
The two pilotless drones -- which have a range of 2,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 135 miles per hour -- performed a series of flybys at the showcase also featuring A-10 "Warthog" ground-attack craft.
The two weapon free drones, delivered to Latvia, are capable of carrying Hellfire missiles and also can perform intelligence and reconnaissance missions.
Tuesday's showcase follows the first time visit of US F-22 Raptor fighters to Estonia.
The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is a a long-endurance, medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built by General Atomics for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
RQ-1 Predator is unmanned aircraft system is basically used by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Surveillance imagery from synthetic aperture radar, video cameras and a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) can be distributed in real-time both to the front line soldier and to the operational commander, or worldwide in real-time via satellite communication links.
The US Air Force received its first Predators in 1994, and deployed them for the first time over Bosnia between 1995-6. Then onwards, Predators were being operated by USAF as well as the Central Intelligence Agency.