Colombia’s air force has announced that it will implement the use of drones in the armed forces’ fight against rebel groups and drug traffickers, local media reported Wednesday.
While drones have acquired an international notoriety, the most controversial aspect of their use in Colombia is the air force’s willingness to use them in big, heavily populated, cities. It is not yet known if the “urban drones” will be used solely as a detection tool or whether they will also have combat capabilities.
General Tinto Pinilla, commander of the Colombian air force, declared that the drones will not solely be used in war “but also natural disaster response, information recovery and border monitoring.”
Up to fifty drones have already been acquired from the UK, with more powerful drones to be supplied by the Israeli government.
In the future, the Colombian government expects to lower drone costs by producing its own unmanned aircraft, that will also be more suited to the specific needs of the country.
In rural areas, one of the tasks that will fall to the drone teams is the protection of pipe lines as well as preventing the destruction of important infrastructure. These have previously been targeted by both left-wing rebel groups FARC and ELN.
Drones have already been used in the country to combat the activities of drugs traffickers, supplied by the United States following a concerted effort between the two nations to increase security in the region.