Tuesday, October 25, 2011

UAVs: Afghanistan Terrorists' Worst Nightmare

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicleBunkered down for the evening in a remote rural compound, a group of insurgents masquerading as Helmand farm workers has prepared thoroughly for the prospect of unwelcome midnight callers.

Before taking to makeshift beds, the Taliban fighters stashed their small arsenal of firearms and explosives in a drainage duct close to the structure's rear gate, draped heavy blankets over their motorcycles and buried radio sets in a cow's feeding trough.

These acts of subterfuge, designed to deceive any passing International Security Assistance Force patrols, were in vain.

Betrayed by their panicked reaction to the distant clatter of helicopter rotors an hour previously, the distinctive shape of their concealed AK-47s and the heat still radiating from their bikes' engines, the true identity of the group was already known to the coalition troops closing in on their position thanks to the three-man crew operating the fearsome British MQ-9 Reaper circling undetected above.

Capable of providing a persistent presence over an area of interest and relaying intelligence to commanders on the ground in the form of clear, full-motion video or verbally over the radio, it is little surprise that the Royal Air Force's cutting-edge Remotely Piloted Air System and the specialists who fly it are in such high demand.

Introduced to theatre in October 2007 as an urgent operational requirement, the aircraft have gone on to notch up a landmark 25,000 flying hours over Afghanistan.

Equipped with an array of hi-tech sensors, including radar, that collect real-time information on the battlespace day and night, Reaper can carry out a wide variety of sorties in support of ground units.
These can range from gathering pre-raid intelligence on target compounds to providing surveillance for routine patrols and supply convoys

read the rest at MOD

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