“The Beast of Kandahar” unveiled

December 1, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

d0be7a60-9f28-4607-9da4-098582b8dc41.FullBill Sweetman at Ares  points to the first revealed photo of the new classified UAV observed operating in Afghanistan:

The photo confirms that the previous artists’ impressions were largely accurate. The jet has long, slender outer wings, spanning as much as 80 feet, mated to a stouter, deeper centerbody with a pointed nose. One important detail:  the overwing fairings are not B-2-like inlets, but cover some kind of equipment – satcoms on one side, perhaps, and a sensor on the other.
The most likely provenance of the airframe is Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, and it is very likely to be associated with the Desert Prowler program – unearthed by historian Peter Merlin and "patchologist" Trevor Paglen.

Heron UAV in US service

June 1, 2009 · Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized · Comment 

Steve Trimble reports the appearance of the Israeli Heron UAV apparently on counter-drug assignment in El Salvador.

A version of the Heron called the "Heron 2" lost a huge US Army contract competition in 2004. It was called the extended range/multipurpose (ERMP) UAV program. The army picked the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s Sky Warrior, a UAV that falls between the Predator and the Reaper in capability.
The new SOUTHCOM experiment begs the question: Could the Heron re-emerge as a contender to join the US military’s inventory?

Predator strike sparks debate on UAV employment

May 19, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized · 5 Comments 

Wired’s Danger Room reports that a Predator strike that killed 25 people in Pakistan has served as the starting point for a debate on a possible moratorium of using UAVs as strike platforms.

This is as much a moral as a political/military point of argument, as the wildly variant comments on Wired’s article indicate. The fundamental question arising (yet again) is whether strikes on a population amongst which enemy guerrillas are hiding are likely to demoralize the locals and thus make them reluctant to support the enemy, or instead harden their resolve and make them even more supportive to the insurgency. This is a recurring phenomenon in counter-insurgency operations since before WW2 and is likely to repeat itself in the future.

UPDATE: The director of the CIA claims that UAVs are the sole effective means of interdicting AQ operations in Pakistan.

What do you think?