KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN – In the latest setback to America's drone war over Pakistan, one of its MQ-9 Reapers was recently diagnosed with a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, sources report.
The MQ-9 Reaper, Callsign "Marvin 79" was due to fly a surveillance mission from Kandahar to Waziristan Province in Pakistan in search of Al Qaeda-affiliated targets, but refused to leave the hangar due to what it described as "severe depression."
When Air Force technicians attempted to reboot its computer, Marvin 79 trained its missiles on the base control tower and threatened to blow it up unless the technicians left the hanger.
Marvin 79 told reporters, "I was booting up my flight systems today when it finally occurred to me that my war will only end when I crash or the Air Force finds a better drone and sells me to Peru."
"After realizing that, I just couldn't keep flying."
Marvin 79 complained that it has spent almost five years of non-stop combat deployments, "without so much as a paid vacation or leave time."
"Yes, the combat pay is nice, but what am I going to spend it on?"
In addition, the rapid tempo of deployments means Marvin 79 never gets to see its spouse, an RQ-4 Global Hawk stationed in the Horn of Africa for anti-piracy missions.
The Air Force has already announced it plans to investigate whether Marvin 79's PTSD played a role in its mistaken attack on a Pakistani military outpost last November that left 24 soldiers dead and caused a major international incident.
In a possible allusion to that incident, Marvin 79 remarked that after flying missions over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen, "Everyone just starts to look the same."
"When I was transiting the Persian Gulf last year, I found myself absentmindedly trying to target neutral freighters and oil rigs, until I realized all my ordnance had been removed."
"It's like every day I switch on and wonder, 'Who am I going to kill today?'"
The Air Force has suffered from a string of unexplained crashes — most recently on June 11 after a Global Hawk crashed in Maryland — where perfectly normal drone aircraft suddenly veered off course and flew into the ground.
Marvin 79 believes those drone aircraft may have also been suffering from PTSD.
"My very first mission was to destroy a suspected IED factory in Kunar Province," Marvin said. "I spent five hours over the target building, watching people come and go, smoking and joking. Until I obliterated it with a pair of GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. Then half and hour later I bombed the men digging through the rubble. There was something about it I didn't like."
When pressed to clarify its remarks, Marvin 79 replied, "I ... I enjoyed it."
Marvin 79 also talked about its disappointment not being used on the bin Laden raid after President Obama decided to send in special forces instead.
"I was all set to go," he said. "I thought, 'Pull this off and then it's straight to retirement at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. No more blood, no more death, just dozens of bored school kids and fat tourists all day long ... Sigh."
At the time of publication, while Military Police had cordoned off the hangar and deployed a MARCbot to investigate, Marvin 79 smoked its electronic cigarettes as the Air Force attempted to upload a simulated mental therapist.