Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 December 2013 Drone wars under way

Cassi Creek:  The drone wars have already begun.  They hinge around the ability to collect information from protected spaces by deploying highly capable unmanned aircraft able to mine information by means of multiple sensor platforms.    The U.S. has been in the lead developing these platforms but the technology that enables stealthy flight  is not a secret.  Once anyone builds a stealth platform, the physics have been broadcast to any military or civilian agency that is willing to invest the time and money. 
          These spy platforms are not truly drones.  They are capable of automated linger and look patterns, programmed penetration flights, and human directed and controlled hands-on missions.  The term drone initially referred to an aircraft used for target purposes by manned aircraft. 
          The expense of these programs must be weighed against the cost in lives and hardware that would result if we flew these missions using humans in the cockpit.  The hardware is horribly expensive.  Pilots and aircrew are even more expensive and take longer to replace.  The nature of the control programs that are being used by trained pilots to fly UAVs remotely is approaching the point where UAV controllers may not need to be trained pilots. 
          The current state of technology allows middle-school kids to build or buy small remote-controlled aircraft.  They have limited lift capacity, limited loiter time, limited range, but can easily be equipped with cameras and transmitters.  The potential for neighborhood espionage now must be considered as well as the ongoing data mining taking place by NSA and other agencies targeting Americans and other nationalities.  The potential court cases stemming from shooting down the kid next door’s  camera-laden drone are going to be fascinating as we throw away more and more of our privacy.

U.S. seeks spy edge with stealth drone
CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
It looks like a bat, sweeping, turning. But it’s actually the new super-secret Air Force stealth drone.
CNN has learned this unmanned spy plane is designed to fly for up to 24 hours behind enemy lines in countries like North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

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