The US Navy’s first drone to conduct a strike on the al Qaeda-linked group known as the Haqqani network in Pakistan has arrived in the US for the first time.
The Nimrod, which will carry out strikes on a designated target, is scheduled to leave the US on Monday and fly into the country from Karachi, Pakistan, before returning to the US at the end of the month.
As of today, it is still in the final stages of its certification process, with its first flight expected to take place this week.
Its mission is to carry a precision-guided weapon to a designated area, and to launch a bomb or missile from that area, the US Navy said in a statement.
After a successful launch, the drone will return to the carrier where it will be handed over to a commandant and transferred to a US aircraft carrier.
Nimrod, or “Nimson”, will be fitted with an advanced digital targeting system, the Navy said.
It is expected to be ready for operational use in mid-2017.
This comes as Pakistan is preparing to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Indian Empire, and the country has been struggling with the rise of al-Qaida-linked groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, which has carried out attacks on government targets, including churches and hospitals.
The US has been trying to persuade Pakistan to curb militant activity by offering financial and military support, which Pakistan has resisted.
It is also hoping to help with border security, which is currently strained by the growing flow of foreign fighters.
In September, the Pakistan Army arrested a number of al Qaeda leaders in the northern city of Karachi.