aircraft. The UAV will then continue to track the suspects across the desert until they can be identified. This same type of surveillance is conducted at border crossings. It is known that al-Qaida terrorists are constantly crossing unmanned areas and being secreted into Iraq. However, with more and more UAV’s patrolling the skies, the military and Iraqi government have been provided with vital intelligence. The Predator UAV, built by General Atomics, a US military contractor, was originally constructed as a roaming reconnaissances drone. They usual patrol at around 10,000ft, though can fly at altitudes approaching 30,000ft. With a flight duration of 27 hours, and a cruising speed of 70mph, some Predators have since been fitted with Hellfire missiles and used to attack known al-Qaida terrorists. A UAV with a strike capability can take action very early in that cycle (of enemy activity), and in many cases, eliminate the threat entirely. If this is not possible, the UAV can transmit accurate intelligence to fighter aircraft or Army units which would then take over strategic decisions.
least one vehicle used to transport rockets to various parts of Baghdad. It is also used to monitor several Iraqi oil pipe lines that traverse thousands of miles across the desert landscapes. If the device witnesses anything suspicious, the operator at Nellis or Balad can simply notify manned patrols or
While the Predator is probably the best known of all UAV’s, it is by no means the only one in operation. The US armed forces has more than twelve UAV systems in its inventory and development is taking place on several more, including the Joint Unmanned Combat Aerial System that will incorporate direct-strike capabilities and a rotary-wing UAV. The high-altitude and very sophisticated Global Hawk enables even longer surveillance operations to take place. This is opposed by the suitcase-carried Marine Corps’ very own hand-launched Dragon Eye UAV. When faced with a difficult situation, Marine commanders can quickly assemble the device and launch it over areas deemed too dangerous to perform reconnaissance missions. Dragon Eye’s operating altitude is between 300 and 500 feet above ground level, and has a video link range in excess of three miles. The devices payloads are capable of real-
From the dangerous streets of Iraqi cities, to the badlands of Afghanistan - America’s intelligence community has a powerful new friend...
Eye Spy examines how airborne unmanned reconnaissance and attack aircraft are opening new avenues of intelligence gathering
Where Eagles Dare Battle of Fallujah UAV’s Proved Vital to Intel
AV’s provided US and Iraqi forces with considerable assistance in the tough US Army Hunter UAV may be armed with Viper Strike munitions to battle of Fallujah, an operation provide a counter strike against mortar attacks in Iraq, under an initiative that saw some 1,800 insurbeing worked by the Spiral Developments Division of the Futures Center gents, rebels and terrorists killed. Some 55 US and Iraqi soldiers also died in the One incident reported by the carrying a plethora of weapoffensive. Had UAV’s not ons, including rocket-proprovided front-line troops and media (delivered under reporting restrictions), related pelled grenades. The group of fighter aircraft with valuable to a UAV identifying around 15 men had entered a two-storey intelligence, Coalition losses insurgents dressed in black building in the city and lay in would have been far greater.
A Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle in the Pentagon courtyard
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wait for advancing Marines. The controller of the UAV radioed an FA-18 fighterbomber the coordinates of the building. Sixty seconds later the USAF fighter attacked and the ambush was thwarted. The attack then prompted another group of foreign fighters to leave their nearby shelter. Unbeknown to the men, the roaming UAV soon began observing and reporting back to controllers outside the city. The intelligence helped provide Coalition forces with the opportunity to establish a secure cordon around the fighters.