Saturday, March 19, 2011

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, (Revelation 13:13)

Enter the drone: Gaddafi has reason to be afraid

Crispin Black: One mistakeand Gaddafi could be takenout by a missile ‘fired’ from the Nevada desert

By Crispin Black
MARCH 19, 2011

It may not be over by Christmas but it should, with luck, be different this time. Here's why. There is one crucial ace in the pack that Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, the previous targets of no-fly zones, did not have to face on any large scale ­ Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles: in plain language, hunter killer drones.

The United States fields two types ­ the smaller and lighter Predator and the truly awesome Reaper with a 66ft wingspan and a payload of 14
missiles or laser-guided bombs. It can stay in the air for 14 hours at a stretch.

It¹s about half the size of a Second World War Lancaster but its smart weapons pack several times the punch. To carry out the Dambusters raid in 1943, Wing Commander Guy Gibson would have needed only three of these extraordinary machines.

The drones are flown remotely, usually from Creech Air Force base a few miles outside Las Vegas. The 'pilots' who control them have been honing their skills with strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It¹s not just the technical specs that are impressive. These machines are the cutting edge of a whole intelligence system ­ think flying iPod or Kindle. Backing them up them are a battery of intelligence-gathering sensors across the world that Bletchley Park could only dream of.

It¹s not yet clear what part the RAF will play in enforcing UN Resolution 1973 - though there are early reports from Italy of British planes being armed with missiles - but GCHQ's listening stations in Cyprus and Gibraltar will be invaluable.

The combination of near real-time target intelligence and Reaper's 14-hour 'loiter time' means that there is a good chance of killing Gaddafi himself and/or his sons early in the campaign ­ if President Obama wants to.

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