The Air Force this summer quietly deployed MQ-9 Reapers to Tunisia to fly reconnaissance missions over Libya as part of the anti-ISIS mission there. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the deployment began in June and that the aircraft were not armed. The Reapers mostly focused on Sirte, where ISIS fighters were dug in for a prolonged battle against Government of National Accord forces. US aircraft have been busy in the fight in Libya, flying 351 airstrikes since Aug. 1, according to US Africa Command. Aircraft on Oct. 26 flew six strikes, all targeting vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices in Sirte.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.