Thursday, February 9, 2012

No Longer Intelligence Officers, But The Killers

In recent years there has been a steady rise in robotics, so to speak, depersonalization of war. The use of various weapons are increasingly vested in the remote-controlled combat systems - air, land and sea. And while today's decision on the use of weapons still predominantly requires  a man, but days are not far, when the command "Fire!" will be given by a computer!


Away from the battlefield

The robotized systems for various purposes are in service around the world for decades. However, the primary purpose of these systems were, until recently, intelligence and surveillance help miners/geologists in the search. Then were set up remote-controlled systems, the objective of which was the performance of combat duty in the so-called protection of the perimeter.

After a while arrived robotic system equipped with weapons, which allow for the signals transmitted from a remote command center and destroy manpower, equipment and facilities of the enemy. The most actively used today for the aircraft systems, having in its composition of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

American military experts foresee extensive use of reconnaissance-strike UAV to eliminate militants and terrorists (now, according to foreign reports, the armed drones belonging to the Pentagon and the CIA, are patrolling the airspace of at least six countries) significantly reduced the time from receipt of updated intelligence and decision to launch missiles. It also reduced the combat stress upon personnel; drone operators who are  in a very comfortable conditions, which is located away from the area of ??application devices. At the same time this managed to save budgetary funds.

However, more recently there have been voices advocating the restriction of the use of armed reconnaissance and strike UAVs, even in cases when it is necessary to kill the leaders of terrorist organizations. The arguments are presented as the moral and ethical considerations (say, even those suspected of terrorism are killed without charge or trial), and other causes. For example, some experts point out that the murder of remote decision-maker to launch a drone combat missile operator can not see what is called, expressions eyes of the enemy, did not feel the smell of blood and smelled gunpowder, quickly hardens the soul and does not take seriously what is happening. His assignment on the use of weapons with UAV becomes a kind of computer game like shooters.


From Predator to Avenger

So far, the military and U.S. intelligence services and Israel, security officials from other countries used drones for target killing operations. The result was a special, narrow party of so-called reconnaissance-strike UAV can find the desired object, generate data targeting, destroy the enemy using small-caliber ammunition and guided air to surface missiles.

The first and still most successful drone in the world for recon & strike is the "Predator". The developers - employees of the company "General Atomics" - designed intelligence and reconnaissance-strike unmanned aerial system, which assigned the designation RQ-1B (reconnaissance) and MQ-1B (reconnaissance-strike), and intended to have the UAV type "Predator" block 1 respectively RQ-1L and MQ-1L.

The main features of the new reconnaissance drone of shock - a more powerful propulsion system based on four-cylinder turbo engine (it is possible to increase the size and weight of the machine), Deicing system. But the main thing - the UAV could use various means of destruction, which had underwing pylons and a laser target designator. Options for Weapons: ATGM or two AGM-114 "Hellfire", or four SD AIM-92 "Stinger" class "air-to-air", or six SD "Griffin" class "air-surface" missiles.

Predator tests were carried out on 21 February 2001. Of the three anti-tank released "Hellfire" all hit the stationary tank target. But the results of further tests in the same year - in May and June - were not so positive, as documented a variety of working errors.

Drone was adopted by the U.S. military as MQ-1A. A little later, Britain and Turkey bought RQ-1/MQ-1. It is these drones that became the first "soulless" murderers and in large quantities were used in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Thus, the American ground troops arrive reconnaissance-strike UAV MQ-1C “Grey Eagle" (a developer and producer - again, "General Atomics") that can stay aloft at altitudes up to 8840 meters at least 30-36 hours and carry an external sling for up to four AGM-114 guided missile system "Hellfire", or SD AIM-92 "Stinger", or planning to bomb GBU-44 / B “Viper Strike."


In turn, the U.S. Air Force and the CIA and other security agencies of the United States decided to continue building their fleets of reconnaissance drone strike on the basis of advanced UAV family "Predator", the designation MQ-9 "Reaper" ("Predator B"). The first flight of the UAV pilot completed February 2, 2001, in October, the U.S. Air Force signed a contract to supply two new types of UAVs and after the validation tests of these devices already placed an order for production. In September 2007, first drones "Reaper" was sent to Iraq in October of that year, the U.S. Air Force possessed nine of these UAVs, in December of 2010 - 57 and planned to buy another 272.

From its predecessor, "Reaper" is large and has more powerful turboprop engine Honeywell TPE331-10 (capacity 900 liters.) With a digital electronic control system DEEC, the best flight performance (range increased to 5926 km, service ceiling reached 15000 m). And increased payload weight - 360 pounds inside the unit and 1,400 kilograms on nodes external suspension.

Variants of drone weapons: 14 anti-tank "Hellfire" or four anti-tank and two 230-pound GBU-12 UAB  with a laser seeker, is also possible suspension ASD GBU-38 caliber 230 kilograms or SD AIM-92 "Stinger". UAV flight duration - at least 28-30 hours, with two drop tanks and combat load 450 kilograms - up to 42 hours.

Regular drones operated in the airspace of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, Yemen and Somalia (these UAVs were used also in Libya). UAVs are now accepted for service in UK and Italy.

The U.S. Navy made a bet on the establishment of military drone aircraft for carrier-based namely X-47V development corporation is "Northrop Grumman". It will have two internal bays to accommodate aircraft weapons with a total mass of about 2000 pounds (maximum takeoff weight of the UAV - a little over 20 000 kg). The first flight of the prototype drone took place on  February 4, 2011, landing and taking off from aircraft carriers are planned for 2013th. Moreover, recently the U.S. Navy commanders gave an indication of the relevant units to assess the desirability and feasibility of reducing the order for F-35 aircraft with options for a short takeoff and landing of an aircraft carrier-based machine and followed the direction of the released funds for the program X-47B. This can be viewed as one of the first real steps in the direction of the Pentagon's gradual equipping of certain types of U.S. military aircraft with unmanned spacecraft.


Extreme shock function

Assessing the progress of work in the field of UAVs, implemented on the instructions of the U.S. Defense Department and several other countries, we can easily draw a conclusion: the military, appreciating the experience of combat drones, came to the idea of empowerment and the creation of specialized robotic percussion complexes. In particular this applies to drones, the latest of which is representative of the UAV, developed by "General Atomics” and were designated as "Avenger"( Predator C ). This prototype first flew on April 4, 2009. According to the construction and combat load this machine is very different from its predecessors. It is generally built by a different ideology, namely the use of UAVs for the sole purpose - to destroy the enemy.

The "Avenger" swept wing span of 20.11 meters. The length of UAVs - about 13.4 meters. UAV is equipped with turbojet engines Pratt & Whitney PW545B thrust 17 kN. Service ceiling - 15,240 feet, and the flight - at least 18-20 hours (when installed in the bomb bay additional fuel tank – further two hours flight), cruising speed - about 740 km/h, maximum take-off weight - 7167 pounds, the weight of fuel - 4082 pounds, maximum payload - about 2948 pounds, including 1588 pounds - inside the fuselage. The device was created with extensive use of stealth technology  (using radio-absorbing coating, reduced the level of "exhaust" of the engine, etc.).

Drone has an inner compartment and six external hardpoints. Armament of drone - ATGM "Hellfire", UAB GBU-24, GBU-31 JDAM, GBU-32 / GBU-38 JDAM, GBU-12/49, GBU-16/48 and GBU-39. The composition of the avionics device includes multi-mode synthetic aperture radar beam, the complex of radio and electronic intelligence, as well as electro-optical sighting system ALERT, developed for the F-35.

It is also noteworthy that on the prototype, which is now being tested, there is arrestor hook. This involves the use of UAVs in the Navy carrier-based aircraft. However, on May 3, 2010 was announced the naval version of the device, called the "Sea Avenger", with folding wings and retractable platform with opto-electronic system. In February of 2011 model of the future UAV was lost in the wind tunnel of the Centre of aviation and space technologies, San Diego, assessing the behavior of the UAV at low speeds during takeoff from an aircraft carrier and landing on its deck, as well as in other modes. So it is quite likely, "Avenger" is on the deck of the American "floating airfields" wing to wing with the X-47V.


While human rights activists complain ...

Estimates from  U.S. non-profit organization "New American Foundation" suggests that "killer robots" since 2004 till August 31, 2011 only on Pakistani territory have caused 269 strokes assault, Washington officially recognized or confirmed by other authoritative sources. The number of those killed in this terrorist or militant varies according to various estimates, from 1365 to 2126 (including 35 leaders or warlords).

Drone attacks in Pakistan

Only the first eight months of 2011; drones 56 times attacked targets on Pakistani territory, killing from 303 to 417 extremists, including the head of "al Qaeda" in Pakistan and the main financier of the cell. True, at the same time the drones that killed tens of many innocent civilians. If we add the results of operations of U.S. reconnaissance and strike UAVs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, as well as to enable the victims of Israeli drones, the figures would be more impressive.

In conclusion, it remains to add that another October 28, 2009, UN Special Envoy Philip Alston, known in the international community, Professor School of Law at New York University, co-chairman of the Center for Human Rights and the international law of the institution, organization, presented to the General Assembly a report asserted that the practice of UAVs for the physical elimination of terrorists should be treated as a violation of international law, and the United States should provide adequate safeguards, and develop a mechanism of control over such shares.

Vladimir Shcherbakov


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