“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” a source told the technology magazine. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.” The infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.
The Pentagon said the virus had not caused any of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to crash and the Predators and Reapers are still flying missions such as the air-strike over Yemen more than a week ago that killed the leading US-born al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki.
The US military is believed to have about 7,000 drones. They are light and easy to transport, there is no risk of losing a pilot’s life and they can stay in the air for long periods and over vast distances. They are also relatively cheap. In Pakistan, drones are believed to have killed more than 2,000 suspected militants and civilians in areas close to the Afghan border where not even the Pakistani military dares to send troops. In Yemen, the scene of the first US drone strike in 2002, they have been effective after leading Muslim clerics threatened to declare a jihad if foreign troops were deployed on their soil.