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Senior Air Force commanders are employing new tactics, technologies and protocols to better safeguard drones from being shot down by enemy fire during missions.

Air Force Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of U.S. Forces Europe, recently told reporters that senior U.S. military leaders are now in an effort to increase mission survivability for combat drones operating in high-risk areas. Responding to a question about an MQ-9 Reaper being shot down over Yemen last year, Harrigian emphasized that drone operations need to become less predictable to enemies.

“There is something to be said for operating in a manner that offers us an opportunity to not be as predictable as we have been. We’ve been too predictable, so we are working to facilitate tactics that allow us to be less predictable, which includes having an idea where the threat is and how to avoid it,” Harrigian said during a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies interview forum.

Describing it in terms of a continuous learning curve, Harrigian explained that advanced communications with air assets and command centers can vastly improve prospects for drone mission success.

“We continue to learn an awful lot about how to optimize our use of Reapers in theaters where they can quickly become tested. It starts with our coms and the environment we are in,” Harrigian said.

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Category: Science