Miniature drones and smaller missiles are now part of the CIA’s arsenal in its clandestine war aimed at killing al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in Pakistan, according to The Washington Post.

In a recent drone attack in Pakistan, the CIA used a 35-pound bomb “probably no bigger than a violin case,” the Post reports today. The idea is that a smaller weapon could kill its intended target but with fewer unintended casualties, known as “collateral damage.”

Reports on the new missile come amid escalating criticism over the killing of civilians in the CIA’s drone attacks. In the past, the CIA has relied on the Predator-launched Hellfire, a missile originally developed as an anti-tank weapon. The Post’s article suggests the new CIA weapon might be the Small Smart Weapon, also called the Scorpion, which is produced by Lockheed Martin.

According to two former intelligence officials, who declined to be identified, the CIA is now using micro-drones “roughly the size of a pizza platter [that] are capable of monitoring potential targets at close range, for hours or days at a stretch,” the Post’s story said.

The drone is small and very quiet, making it deal for spying on potential targets. The article didn’t specify what type of micro-drone the CIA was using, but the military has developed a number of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) such as the WASP, a hand-launched weapon used by special forces. That drone, however, can fly for only 45 minutes. The Post story says the CIA micro-drone can fly for many hours.

Though it’s unclear precisely what the micro-drone could be, the Air Force has sponsored a micro-UAV project called Project Anubis, which is specifically designed to help the special forces track “fleeting targets.” In March, the Air Force Research Laboratory awarded UAV maker AeroVironment a contract for what appeared to be the final phase of work on Project Anubis.

“The current state of Project Anubis is unknown,” defense analyst David Hambling wrote earlier this year on about the secretive project. “It could be one of tens of thousands of military research efforts that started, made some progress and ended without a conclusion. Or Anubis could now be in the hands of Air Force Special Operations Command.”

Source: Sharon Weinberg for AOL News.

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