Drones have been around since the early 1980’s . They proved a useful tool in the Israeli-Lebanon war of 1982. Since that time the development of new drones coupled with the advancement of technology has led militaries such as the United States and Israel to construct both surveillance and surgical strike strategies using only drone aircraft. Companies such as Lockheed-Martin and Northrop-Grumman are raising the bar ever higher with prototypes that can surpass the speed of sound six times over as well as remain in total stealth.
The original drone, the “Predator”, with its distinctive bubble near the nose and sensor ball underneath, is the iconic image of drone warfare., The Predator is an aircraft that grew out of 1980s work supported by the Pentagon’s future-thinking Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Originally developed to perform surveillance, the CIA added Hellfire missiles and began using the Predator to hunt down members of the Taliban and al Qaeda after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Though the CIA and Air Force now fly an updated version of the Predator named the “Reaper” the drone is still relatively easy to detect, and easy to shoot down, at least for a country with a modern military.
Under development, however, is a new generation of drones that will be able to penetrate the air defenses of even sophisticated nations, spotting nuclear facilities, and tracking down — and possibly killing — terrorist leaders, silently from high altitudes. These drones will be fast, stealthy and survivable, designed to sneak in and out of a country without ever being spotted.
The original Predator was essentially a surveillance aircraft that was turned into an armed drone. The Pentagon has openly funded work on unmanned combat aircraft, including Northrop Grumman’s X-47, a diamond-shaped drone that can take off and land from aircraft carriers.
The real future of special op missions may not be the super sleek, high flying – speed flying drones of the future but rather micro drones disguised as insects or birds. There are videos available on the internet site YouTube, which depicts the 3D video of micro military drones. In one video there is what appears to be a bird on a wire which is actually a high tech surveillance drone. In another scene there is a flying spider with eight legs that can actually be loaded up with enough explosives to target an enemy and carry out a “drone assassination”.
The US military holds an annual exercise called Black Dart, which looks at ways to counter hostile drones, particularly small drones. Among the possible defenses are lasers to shoot down drones or systems that can jam the radio signals used to control drones.
The Israeli influence is not visible but it is real, documented and extremely relevant to the future of drones in America. If you want to know how drones may change American airspace in coming years, just look to Israel, where the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market is thriving and drones are considered a reliable instrument of “homeland security.”
The Israeli Defense Force uses fleets of constantly hovering drones to intimidate and control the Arab population in the Gaza Strip. The IDF regularly uses drones for targeted assassinations of suspected militants, saying the drones enable them to use “precision strikes” to avoid hurting civilians.
The Jewish state is the single largest exporter of drones in the world, responsible for 41 percent of all UAVs exported between 2001 and 2011, according to a database compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Israeli companies export drone technology to at least 24 countries, including the United States.
One of the first uses of drones by the Department of Homeland Security was to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border, where it now flies Israeli made Hermes 450 drones. The Mexican government has allowed the U.S. to fly drone missions as part of the drug war.
Of course drones are not only limited to military personnel, just as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, fast became the No. 1 killer of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, experts are now warning that crude drones , essentially sophisticated model airplanes, could be the real threat in the years to come.
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