DOD to buy fleet of new spy planes for Yemen

American military planners have also cordoned off $11.4 million in funding to buy 48 surveillance "stations", which will allow Yemeni forces to track imagery intelligence gathered from the spy planes. 

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Most of those surveillance stations will be vehicle-based, so Yemeni forces can track the intelligence gathered from the planes while on the move. 

The rest of the stations will be based at either fixed locations on the ground or aboard ships, according to the notice. 

Pentagon leaders expect the planes and equipment to be shipped to Yemen by the end of September, with deliveries completed by the end of 2014. 

The program is funded through the joint Pentagon and State Department "Security Assistance Fund" known inside the department as Section 1206 funding, after the section in the 2006 defense authorization act that created the fund. 

Programs funded under the 1206 account are specifically geared to assist counterterrorism operations in foreign countries by partner nation forces. 

The surveillance planes are just the latest U.S. military investment in counterterrorism operations in Yemen. 

Machine guns, sniper rifles, aerial drones, and two new operating bases were all part of a $75 million Pentagon counterterrorism package sent to Yemen last year. 

The $75 million support package for Yemen was included in the Pentagon's fiscal 2012 defense spending bill. 

That package was funded under a separate, joint counterterrorism account between DOD and the State Department, known as the "Security and Stability Assistance" fund, or Section 1207 in Pentagon parlance. 

The millions in weapons, equipment and overall support from the Pentagon is part of Washington's ongoing campaign to root out al Qaeda cells in the southern part of the country. 

Southern Yemen has long been the stronghold of al Qaeda's main faction in the country, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). 

The Pentagon and White House recently ramped up those attacks against AQAP, considered the most dangerous and well-funded of the group's terror cells, after a terror threat by the group against U.S. targets in the Middle East and North Africa. 

The U.S. has closed 19 embassies across the Middle East and Africa this month  in response to the threat. Most personnel were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in early August. 

The terror threat prompting the embassy closures was uncovered after U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted a message between the leader of al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahri and the head of AQAP, Nasir al-Wuhayshi.

The State Department reopened  18 of the 19 embassies and consulates on August 9. 

But the main American diplomatic outpost in the Sanaa remained shuttered, due to "ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating" from AQAP, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement at the time.