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1 in 3 US warplanes a drone, congress report says

Nearly one in three US warplanes is a drone, with robots accounting for 31 per cent of all military aircraft, according to a congressional report.

Predator drone 2011 10 10Enlarge
The RQ-1 Predator drone lands at Balad Air Base in Iraq after a sortie on Sept. 15, 2004. (Rob Jensen/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly one in three US warplanes is a drone, with robots accounting for 31 per cent of all military aircraft, according to a congressional report.

The Congressional Research Service paper, obtained by Wired, said the US military had 7,494 drones and 10,767 traditional manned aircraft.

In other words, unmanned aircraft now make up 31 per cent of the military's air power, a "40-fold increase in the drone army" from 2005, when robots accounted for just 5 percent of the military's airpower, according to Popular Science.

While the vast majority of money spent on warplanes still goes to the human-occupied kind, DOD spending on drones has mushroomed from $284 million in 2000 to $3.3 billion in the most recent fiscal year. With new drones on the horizon, including one that can take off and land from an aircraft carrier, these numbers are likely to increase.

Wired reports that 92 percent of the money allotted to buying aircraft now goes to manned systems, with $26 billion spent so far on drones.

The majority of the drones are of relatively small and used for intelligence gathering. The Raven is the most common drone in the US arsenal, with 5,346 in the field.

In terms of losses, 38 Predators and Reapers have crashed during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Wired article said.

And the costs go far beyond monetary — last month a RQ-170 Sentinel drone was captured by Iran as part of a joint CIA-military reconnaissance operation.

More from GlobalPost: Iran will not return downed U.S. drone, says general

Wired embeds a copy of the report, which it said "compiles and updates a lot of useful information about military drones."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/war/military/120112/1-3-us-military-afghanistan-warplanes-drone-predator-raptor-raven-congress