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Military weighs cutbacks, shifts in drone programs to save money, face evolving threats

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FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Pentagon for the first time is considering scaling back the massive build-up of drones conducted in the past few years, both to save money and to adapt to new areas of operation, such as Asia, as the Afghanistan war winds down. The downsizing would not affect the current drone campaign against terror suspects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (The Associated Press)

The Pentagon for the first time is considering scaling back the massive buildup of drones it has overseen in the past few years. It would be both to save money and to adapt to changing security threats and new areas of operation — such as east Asia — where drones are more likely to be detected and shot down.

If the Pentagon does slow the huge building and deployment program, it won't affect CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere against terror suspects.

Air Force leaders are saying the military may already have enough unmanned aircraft systems to wage the wars of the future — and the current number may be more than the service can afford to maintain.

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