U.S. troops engage ISIS in dueling drone warfare

MOSUL, Iraq -- It looks like a toy plane and sounds like a lawnmower.

But the RQ-7Bv2 is a $1.5 million drone. The U.S. military calls it “The Shadow.”

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Soldiers prepare the RQ-7Bv2 for takeoff CBS News

In the skies above Mosul, it allows the American coalition to call in airstrikes targeting ISIS positions.

Sgt. Joe Pinchott is a drone pilot with the 82nd Airborne Division in northern Iraq, surveilling the battlefield in incredible detail from the back of a humvee.

“The vehicle they’re driving, and what they’re wearing -- it’s pretty easy to tell,” he said.

Pinchott said he can see enough to be certain whether the people on the ground are Americans or not: “I can’t read someone’s name tag or anything. But I can tell what they’re wearing.” 

The average age of the drone pilots in Shadow Platoon is just 22 -- many of them keen video gamers. But their screens are too secret to show the public.

ISIS using drones as effective tool in arsenal

“It’s much slower paced [than a video game], graphics aren’t quite as good, the controls aren’t quite the same,” Pinchott said. “It’s sort of like a video game, but nobody would buy to play this video game.”

ISIS has its own drones, which the terror group uses to guide suicide bombers. Some have also been adapted to drop explosives. 

For the most part, however, the extremists rely on low-tech weapons like rifles and explosives.

Even with those, ISIS has wreaked deadly chaos in Iraq. But America’s military technology is helping to beat back the enemy.