US President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed Predator drones in Libya against forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, in an effort to provide "precision capabilities" to international coalition forces in the North African state, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.
"The (US) President has said that where we have some unique capabilities, he is willing to use those. And in fact he has approved the use of armed Predators, and I think that today may in fact have been their first mission. So I think that will give us some precision capability," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the first predator flights launched on Friday had to come back because of "bad weather".
"But what they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on particularly targets now that have started to dig themselves in into defensive positions," he said.
"They're uniquely suited for urban areas where you can get low collateral damage. So we're trying to manage that collateral damage obviously, but that's the best platform to do that with; their extended persistence on the target, they're out there for a full day working the targets," Cartwright said.