Al Jazeera’s Alastair Leithead has reported that the US and Russia are expected to sign an agreement on Thursday to build the first GPS-based tracking systems for both the US military and for civilian aircraft, after agreeing in February on a plan to jointly develop a similar system.
Al Jazeera understands the US will be responsible for building the systems, while Russia will be expected to contribute in the form of an agreement to operate them.
US defence secretary Chuck Hagel had announced in February that the Pentagon would be acquiring an initial batch of GPS-equipped unmanned aircraft by the end of this year.
The deal will involve US companies working with Russian companies on building the GPS-linked systems, and the Pentagon has pledged to purchase the systems as soon as possible.
Hagel’s comments followed reports that Russia had bought a third of a US company that developed a similar technology, the DigitalGlobe, for military use.
In a separate development, the Pentagon is also expected to announce the formation of an alliance between the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the Free Syrian Army, as the US prepares to deploy its own ground troops.
The US has been arming the FSA since 2013, with an aim of supporting a US-backed offensive to retake Raqqa, Syria, and to provide weapons to anti-government fighters.