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Posts Tagged uav
“Hellfire, Morality and Strategy is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman
Airstrikes by unmanned aerial vehicles have become a matter of serious dispute lately. The controversy focuses on the United States, which has the biggest fleet of these weapons and which employs them more frequently than any other country. On one side of this dispute are those who regard them simply as another weapon of war whose virtue is the precision with which they strike targets. On the other side are those who argue that in general, unmanned aerial vehicles are used to kill specific individuals, frequently civilians, thus denying the targeted individuals their basic right to some form of legal due process.
Let’s begin with the weapons systems, the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper. The media call them drones, but they are actually remotely piloted aircraft. Rather than being in the cockpit, the pilot is at a ground station, receiving flight data and visual images from the aircraft and sending command signals back to it via a satellite data link. Numerous advanced systems and technologies work together to make this possible, but it is important to remember that most of these technologies have been around in some form for decades, and the U.S. government first integrated them in the 1990s. The Predator carries two Hellfire missiles — precision-guided munitions that, once locked onto the target by the pilot, guide themselves to the target with a high likelihood of striking it. The larger Reaper carries an even larger payload of ordnance — up to 14 Hellfire missiles or four Hellfire missiles and two 500-pound bombs. Most airstrikes from these aircraft use Hellfire missiles, which cause less collateral damage.
Unlike a manned aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles can remain in the air for an extended period of time — an important capability for engaging targets that may only present a very narrow target window. This ability to loiter, and then strike quickly when a target presents itself, is what has made these weapons systems preferable to fixed wing aircraft and cruise missiles. Read the rest of this entry »
From Danger Room:
Four years after discovering that militants were tapping into drone video feeds, the U.S. military still hasn’t secured the transmissions of more than half of its fleet of Predator and Reaper drones, Danger Room has learned. The majority of the aircraft still broadcast their classified video streams “in the clear” — without encryption. With a minimal amount of equipment and know-how, militants can see what America’s drones see.
From Wired’s Threat Watch:
The Government Accountability Office is warning Congress that its push for drones to become commonplace in U.S. airspace fails to take into account concerns surrounding privacy, security and even GPS jamming and spoofing.
From Wired’s Danger Room:
…earlier this month, the Army issued a stop-work order — one step away from termination — to the drone’s developer Boeing. The reason? A high “probability of continued technical and schedule delays,” costs and risks that have “increased so significantly that program continuation is no longer in the best interest of the government,” said Donna Hightower, the Army’s acting product manager for unmanned aerial systems modernization.
Public worries about drones began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that they’re going mainstream.
Jeff Landry, a freshman Republican congressman from Louisiana’s coastal bayou country, says constituents have stopped him while shopping at Walmart to talk about their concerns.
From Military Times:
Boeing said Monday that the 28-minute flight of the Phantom Eye began at 6:22 a.m. Friday. The aircraft reached an altitude of 4,080 feet and a cruising speed of 62 knots before landing at the California desert base.
From Wired’s Danger Room:
The Phantom Eye’s size means the drone can be loaded up with a whopping 450 lbs. of sensors and cameras — which will come in handy for toting the military’s forthcoming spy gear, like Gorgon Stare, designed to spy on “city-size” areas, or the Army’s ARGUS sensor, which collects the equivalent of 79.8 years of video footage each day. Combine that capacity with a lengthy loiter time, and you’ve got a high-flying spy system that can peek on entire cities for days at a time.
From Defense Industry Daily:
MQ-9 operators currently include the USA and Britain, who have both used it in hunter-killer mode, and Italy. Other countries are also expressing interest, and international deployments are accelerating.
One of the most iconic images of the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — as well as global U.S. counterterrorism efforts — has been the armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), specifically the MQ-1 “Predator” and the MQ-9 “Reaper.” Unarmed RQ-1 Predators (which first flew in 1994) were flying over Afghanistan well before the 9/11 attacks. Less than a month after the attacks, an armed variant already in development was deployed for the first time.
In the decade since, the Predator has clocked more than a million flight hours. And while U.S. Air Force procurement ceased in early 2011 — with more than 250 airframes purchased — the follow-on MQ-9 Reaper has already been procured in numbers and production continues. Predators and Reapers continue to be employed in a broad spectrum of roles, including close air support (CAS), when forward air controllers communicate with UAV operators to release ordnance with friendly troops in the vicinity (CAS is one of the more challenging missions even for manned aircraft because of the heightened risk of friendly casualties). Officially designated “armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long endurance, remotely piloted aircraft,” the second to last distinction is the Predator and Reaper’s principal value: the ability to loiter for extended periods, in some cases for more than 24 hours. Read the rest of this entry »
According to the Military Times the UAV, that Iran claims to have, did not suffer any kind of hostile activity:
Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., said that the Iranians have no way to detect or engage the stealthy Sentinel.
“It would be almost impossible for Iran to shoot down an RQ-170 because it is stealthy; therefore, the Iranian air defenses can’t see it,” Thompson said. “Partly for the same reason, it is exceedingly unlikely that they used a cyber attack to bring down the aircraft.”
A Deadly U.S. Attack on Pakistani Soil is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
By Nate Hughes
In the early hours of Nov. 26 on the Afghan-Pakistani border, what was almost certainly a flight of U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and an AC-130 gunship killed some two dozen Pakistani servicemen at two border outposts inside Pakistan. Details remain scarce, conflicting and disputed, but the incident was known to have taken place near the border of the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar and the Mohmand agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The death toll inflicted by the United States against Pakistani servicemen is unprecedented, and while U.S. commanders and NATO leaders have expressed regret over the incident, the reaction from Pakistan has been severe.
Claims and Interests
The initial Pakistani narrative of the incident describes an unprovoked and aggressive attack on well-established outposts more than a mile inside Pakistani territory — outposts known to the Americans and ones that representatives of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had visited in the past. The attack supposedly lasted for some two hours despite distressed communications from the outpost to the Pakistani military’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi. Read the rest of this entry »
From Danger Room:
Vanguard has already been awarded a multi-million dollar deal to use the robo-copters for anti-piracy missions in Africa, but its hopes for the little tasering robot soar much higher. It envisions the Shadowhawk helping out in everything from tactical night ops to arms trafficking surveillance, from oil rig inspections to perimeter security. Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of Montgomery County Texas says he can’t wait to use it for SWAT callouts and narcotics raids.
Anyone who has seen the TV show Dark Angel should be concerned.
Al Qaeda’s Leadership in Yemen is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
By Scott Stewart
On May 5, a Hellfire missile fired from a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) struck a vehicle in the town of Nissab in Yemen’s restive Shabwa province. The airstrike reportedly resulted in the deaths of two Yemeni members of the Yemen-based al Qaeda franchise group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and injured a third AQAP militant. Subsequent media reports indicated that the strike had targeted Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born member of AQAP, but had failed to kill him.
The May 5 strike was not the first time al-Awlaki had been targeted and missed. On Dec. 24, 2009 (a day before the failed AQAP Christmas Day bombing attempt against Northwest Airlines Flight 253), an airstrike and ground assault was launched against a compound in the al-Said district of Shawba province that intelligence said was the site of a major meeting of AQAP members. The Yemeni government initially indicated that the attack had killed al-Awlaki along with several senior AQAP members, but those reports proved incorrect.
In 2009 and 2010, the United States conducted other strikes against AQAP in Yemen, though most of those strikes reportedly involved Tomahawk cruise missiles and carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft. Still, the United States has reportedly used UAVs to attack targets in Yemen on a number of occasions. In November 2002, the CIA launched a UAV strike against Abu Ali al-Harithi and five confederates in Marib. That strike essentially decapitated the al Qaeda node in Yemen and greatly reduced its operational effectiveness for several years. There are also reports that a May 24, 2010, strike may have been conducted by a UAV. However, that strike mistakenly killed the wrong target, which generated a great deal of anger among Yemen’s tribes, who then conducted armed attacks against pipelines and military bases. The use of airstrikes against AQAP was heavily curtailed after that attack. Read the rest of this entry »
“Back in 2009, the Air Force confirmed that it had a mysterious stealth drone, the Lockheed RQ-170, flying over Kandahar in Afghanistan — the subject of much online speculation and grainy photography. Now, after something of a lull, the Secret Projects forum has new pics of the drone that Ares aviation ace Bill Sweetman dubbed “The Beast of Kandahar.”
Not much is known about the Beast. It’s not believed to carry any missiles, and the new photographs don’t indicate that it’s armed. And as David Hambling wrote at Danger Room at the time, it’s a mystery why the stealth Beast even patrols Kandahar, given all the other drones in the skies above and the Taliban’s lack of radar.”