U.S. signals weakness to the world’s growing ranks of predators
That is why Washington’s confused handling of the Chen affair is so disturbing. At a time of potentially enormous upheaval within China, America’s current foreign-policy leaders had no strategy to advance our interests and support those of like mind inside China. Instead, we find [...]
Get ready to shrink the drone war. The Army and Marine Corps’ medium-sized spy drones may soon become killers, thanks to a successful flight test by a mini-drone strapped with a 12-pound bomb.
Raytheon, the defense giant, has been working since 2009 on what it calls a Small Tactical Munition — as the name suggests, [...]
In the world of weaponry, they are the sexiest things around. Others countries are desperate to have them. Almost anyone who writes about them becomes a groupie. Reporters exploring their onrushing future swoon at their potentially wondrous techno-talents. They are, of course, the pilotless drones, our grimly named Predators [...]
For drone freaks (and these days Washington seems full of them), here’s the good news: Drones are hot! Not long ago — 2006 to be exact — the Air Force could barely get a few armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the air at once; now, the number is 38; by 2011, it will reputedly [...]
But the huge demand for the Predators’ eyes in the sky over the battlefield — reconnaissance that can’t be provided by manned aircraft — has muted such criticism. While it took 12 years, from 1995 to 2007, for the Predator fleet to rack up 250,000 flight hours, it reached the 500,000-hour mark just 20 months [...]
All these attitudes began to change in 2001, when the CIA and the Air Force rigged a few Predators with Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. Suddenly, a UAV could do more than just float over a target for 20 hours at a time, watching and taking pictures, already a significant asset. It could also be a killer.