Unmanned Predator Kills Three Terrorists; Relative Turns in Suspect
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2006 An MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle engaged three insurgents in the process of planting a homemade bomb along a road near Balad Air Base, Iraq, yesterday evening and launched an AGM-114 Hellfire missile against the group.
The Predator monitored the three terrorists for about a half hour while they used a pick ax to dig a hole in the road, placed an explosive round in the hole, and strung wires from the hole to a ditch on the side of the road. When it was clear the individuals were placing a bomb, the Predator launched the 100-pound Hellfire missile, killing all three insurgents.
"This is a prime example of how airpower is supporting the fight on the ground," Air Force Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad, said. "We're able to provide a persistent view of the battlefield to commanders on the ground and, if called upon, put a weapon on a target within minutes."
Using joint Army and Air Force trend analysis and past incident reporting from the area, the Predator was assigned to monitor the general location where the insurgents were ultimately found. "Based on the information we had available, we had a pretty good idea there might be some activity in the area, and we were right," Gorenc said. "This strike should send a message to our enemies that we're watching you, and we will take action against you any time, day or night, if you continue to stand in the way of progress in Iraq."
In other news from Iraq, a relative of a suspected terrorist turned him over to Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers March 27, accusing him of conducting drive-by attacks against Iraqi army troops, officials reported today.
When soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, responded to the relative's tip and went to the suspect's house, they found two AK-47 assault rifles, a 9 mm pistol, and body armor. The suspect was taken into custody for questioning.
Elsewhere, other tipsters told coalition forces and Iraqi army soldiers about two weapons caches on March 25. One cache contained 22 grenades, six grenade fuses and five blasting caps in southern Baghdad. U.S. soldiers from 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and counterparts from the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, found the cache.
A few hours later, another tip led the same soldiers to a large weapons cache containing 292 grenades, 350 machine gun rounds, 100 hand grenade fuses, two 120 mm artillery rounds, two 25-pound bags of artillery propellant, and repellant charges.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)