NATO confirms that an unmanned helicopter drone was lost during a mission over Libya Tuesday, but denies claims that forces aligned with leader Moammar Gadhafi shot down an attack helicopter. The drone loss comes as the Alliance faces increasing pressures over the precision of its air attacks and alleged civilian deaths.
NATO spokesman Mike Bracken denied the claim by the Gadhafi government that it had shot down an attack helicopter, but confirmed that an unmanned drone was lost on Tuesday.
“At 0720 GMT, NATO received reports of an unmanned, autonomous helicopter drone, used by NATO forces, lost radar contact with the command center,” Bracken announced. “This drone helicopter, unmanned, was performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over Libya to monitor pro-Gadhafi forces threatening the civilian population.”
Libyan government TV showed footage of what appeared to be a downed helicopter, including part of a rotor blade. The TV claimed that a NATO Apache attack helicopter had been shot down near the town of Zlitan, 135 kilometers east of Tripoli.