By Adam Levine
December has not been a drone-friendly month. First a drone went down in Iran, and now another one crashes, albeit in much friendlier climes.
An unarmed MQ-9 Reaper crashed at the Seychelles International Airport on Tuesday morning, according to an Air Force statement. There were no injuries reported, according to the Air Force statement, and the cause of the crash is not yet known and is being investigated.
Unlike Iran, the drone's presence was not a surprise for the Seychelles government. The U.S. has been expanding its ability to launch drones to reach Al Qaeda fighters who have spread well beyond the Afghanistan and Pakistan region. The network of drone bases includes a base in Seychelles, Chris Lawrence reported earlier this year. From Seychelles, a drone could even fly all the way into Yemen, where Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a strong base.
An official cable leaked to Wikileaks shows that two years ago, American diplomats agreed to get approval to arm the Reapers directly from Seychelles' President, who supported UAV counter-terrorism flights into East Africa.
The cable describes President James Michel opinion of Somalia: "that country could prove a 'nest for terrorism' if the problem isn't attacked head on."
The advantage is easy access, according to Michael Sweetman of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
""So that you can react within minutes 24 hours a day, for the next several months until you find the bad guy. Once again, we found some of these bad guys in the past and not been able to put an asset on target, and we end up losing the bad guy because we can't get an asset there."