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GNOSIS 3/2009
The epoch of paura arrives
for the terrorist


Photo Ansa
If we are not yet at the “Stellar Wars” we are pretty close to it. With the Third Millennium, the advance of technology has become all-powerful also in the field of war. We are two steps away from the robot soldier, while the skies are dotted with small silent aircraft, able to “read” the terrain and transmit images and information in real time to an operator a thousand kilometres away.
In a instant, by pressing a button, it may also be decided to give the “spy” a “licence to kill”. They are the “drones”: little remote controlled planes that are able to fly for hours and hours. They are the new instruments of combat of the modern armies –the “eyes” of the sophisticated Intelligence structures in territories where an infiltrated agent would be easily discovered.
Giudo Olimpio conducts us to the inside of the new scenarios of the fight against terrorism, piracy, illegal immigration and drug trafficking, but also to the training centres of the new “digitalized” soldiers, for whom the battle-field will assume more and more the semblance of a tragic videogame, but the game is with human lives.

They are the new agents “with license to kill”. Silent, with sophisticated weapons, able to see where human eyes cannot, able to remain for hours behind their target. And they have no scruples. Because they cannot have any. They are the drones: the unmanned aircraft used in the hunt for terrorists and new pirates, in the defence of borders and in the surveillance of important events. Sometimes, they are satisfied with just spying from above on what happens with their sensitive equipment; on other occasions they shoot to neutralize a threat or forestall an attack. They are used prodigiously by the Americans, therefore, by the Israelis, who were the pioneers in the use of the UAV (unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
But the drones – like the Predator or the Reaper – have entered a good number of aviations, including the Italian, which deployed them first in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, then in Abruzzo, after the earthquake, and at the international summit at Aquila. Plans foresee more use for them in the Aviation, on the condition of having time to train the pilots. Recently, a Predator of the latest model left the base of Amendola, in Puglia, and reached Sardinia. A flight made, thanks to satellite assistance which evidences advanced expertise in the use of the system.
For some, the drones are the solution. For others, they are only a temporary instrument which cannot alter the strategic picture. Again, others consider that in certain situations, their raids – like those of the fighters – are counter-productive.
We shall speak of this further ahead. It is certainly true that the fight in the field of the terrorists has changed with the coming of the drones and Al Qaeda itself, at various latitudes, had to admit to being afraid. It revealed that they fear these flying machines, which you cannot see, you cannot hear, yet they are out there just waiting for the objective. For the quaedist it is like walking permanently with a small red point on his head: a slender ray which could mean death.
Together with the drones, thousands of other automated means have been deployed on the battle field and are remotely controlled by the soldiers. Not only. Also the equipment of the infantry has changed: computer and electronics, integrated systems have transformed and will further transform the way of going into battle.
Once again, it is the Americans – thanks to impressive financing – to tread the way. In 2003, during the Iraq invasion, there were no robots. One year later, there were 150. At the end of 2005 they passed to 2,400. Today, over 12 thousand can be counted. And of these, a substantial part is composed of Predators, Reapers and Global Hawks, deployed in the operation areas – from the Middle East to Asia, but piloted by crews based in the United States.

The origins

The United States, always divided between respect for democratic principles and the need to respond to questions of security, have had difficulty in managing the “dirty operations”. Eventually, someone ‘spilled the beans’ to the press, causing moral embarrassment and political waves. Therefore, after eight attempts to eliminate the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro – perhaps the plots were more – Presidents Ford and Carter signed orders to impede the assassinations of enemy Heads of State. But often, reality sweeps away ideals and forces a compromise. So, the Republican, Ronald Reagan, launched a strike on the residence of the Libyan, Colonel Gheddafi, as a reprisal for an anti-American attack in a Berlin discotheque. In 1998, it is the turn of the Democratic, Bill Clinton to seek the big target, ordering the launching of cruise missiles on the Afghanistan training camps. A blitz authorized in reply to the African massacres carried out by Al Qaeda terrorists.
On this occasion, it is recounted that Osama Bin Laden and some of his collaborators escaped the bombardment by a hair’s breadth. One version says that they had been warned only two hours beforehand. The second report speaks of casualties: the Sheikh feared a reprisal and he had packed his bags before the American reprisal could seize him.
With the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, in 2001, the picture changes again. President George W. Bush signs an executive order which permits the Security Services and the Armed Forces to locate and kill the Heads of the terrorism. An authorization which finds an immediate opening. In November, 2001, following a raid, Mohammed Atef, the Egyptian responsible for the military apparatus of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is killed. The action is attributed to an air attack, perhaps conducted by a Predator. Another drone – unarmed – follows a column of jeeps on the Afghan mountains, near Kandahar. The images sent to the control station show a tall thin figure who – according to some interpretations –could be Osama in person. But the chain of command is not fast enough to allow an armed aircraft to intervene and the important objective is lost.
A missed target that pushes the Intelligence and the Pentagon to accelerate the programme to arm the major part of the drones with missiles.
The system shows its efficiency when, in Yemen, in 2002, a Predator surprises and eliminates Abu Al Harethi, accused of having organized the attack against the United States warship “Cole”, in Aden, 2002. With him, Kamal Dervish is also killed, an American citizen of Yemeni origin, who decided to fight for the Al Qaeda. The success pushes the United States to improve the quality and number of the aircrafts. Then, starting from 2007, the CIA and the U.S. Air Force increase the interventions in the Afghan-Pakistan territory. If, in that year, only three drone raids were recorded – or better, these are the official figures – in 2008, they become 34, and by the middle of August slightly exceed 30.
It is interesting to notice how President Barack Obama continues the programme launched by Bush. Also symbolically. One of those attacks occurred three days after the presidential inauguration at the White House. As executives of the CIA often admit, “it’s the only game we have in the city”. A way of saying that the drones represent the only ace they have to play. A statement that leads the analysts to sustain that the Predators have become the real force of counter guerilla warfare.
The turning point could be explained by reasons which vary according to the war theatre. In Iraq, the feared IED, the ‘Odin Task Force’ was revealed to be fundamental, not only in pursuing presumed terror exponents, but above all, in the activities intended to foil the ambushes of the improvised bombs. The IED, composed of Special Forces and regular units, equipped with drones and other highly sophisticated systems employed its “fleet” to carry out three kinds of mission: support to ground units engaged in offensive actions; support to units under fire; “sterilization” of roads and paths of communication.
The Predator, together with other spy aircraft, can perform the scout function, “infiltrating” hostile territory; control the status of a route, verify whether there have been alterations to the road paving, signal abnormalities and, if necessary, intervene. A rapid change from the role of explorer and hunter. Interventions which, for the first time, have seen the participation – in February, 2009, in Iraq, the Province of Dyala – of aircrafts of the United States Army. The ground units have a special Predator version at their disposal; the “Warrior Alpha”, which has had various successes in the neutralization of the “bomb sowers”: team of insurgents who hide explosive devices along the road and set ambushes for the military convoys.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, these Warrior Alphas were transformed into launching pads aimed at the decapitation of Qaedist and Taliban movements. In this, they have, indeed, become agents with license to kill. Not being easy for the Intelligence to infiltrate their own agents in the tribal areas and along the borders, the task has passed to the drones. Therefore, they have integrated the incursions with a patient activity, Humint, made possible by the cooperation of the Pakistani. Local spies supply the correct indications; hide small bugs – that cost only $25.00 – which emit lights that are only visible to the infra-red systems of the UAV, furnishing essential data. So the trap is sprung. In this way, they were able to kill, at least, some 210 High Value Targets. Among them, Beitullah Mehsud, the Head of the Pakistan Taleban.

Machines and men

The secret war of the drones is supported, essentially, on a reduced series of well protected bases created in strategic areas. The particularity of this arms system is that the control center is in the West. I.e. pilots and missile launch assistants sit in a screen filled, which can be situated from five to six thousand kilometers from the operations zone. The Predator is guided via satellite and only for the take-off and landing phases is followed by a crew present in the same base of departure. The team remains 8 hours in mission, and then has 4 hours rest, and if necessary, resumes the command. This allows long periods to continue the hunt, alternating the crews. The average length of a mission is 18 hours with, at least, two targets to neutralize. But it is obvious that a drone can remain in flight even for 30 hours, representing a continuous deterrent.
The Pentagon has 127 Predators, 31 Reapers and more than 400 pilots. A number which allows almost 34 unmanned aircrafts in flight, at the same time. A significant step ahead when one considers that only three years ago, the number was barely 12. Added to the means of the Air Force are those of the CIA, from 15 to 30, the activities of which are, obviously, protected by a major reserve.

The heart of the activity of the United States Air Force is at the Creech Base, at about 40 kilometers north of Las Vegas.
During a visit, we were able to note the simplicity and, at the same time, the complexity of the “machines”. Able to be dismantled, present no maintenance problems, they are heard only on take-off. But when they reach quota, they become phantoms. Another relevant aspect is that of cost: 4 million dollars is needed to purchase a Predator and 12 million for a Reaper. The latter, apart from the Hellfire missiles, can transport laser guided bombs and has a war load equivalent to that of the fighter bomber F 16
It takes little to understand how, in times of economic recession, the drone presents a considerable saving. Particularly sophisticated equipment that allows the following of what is happening on the ground, the Reaper sensors cover an area of 6 square kilometers and, in 2013, a version that will enlarge the area of surveillance to 20 square kilometers, will come into service.
The video cameras of the Predator transmit 10 videos simultaneously and separately to the troops on the ground.
Those of the Reaper, 30 video images. In future, they will be able to reach 65. An incredible result. They not only reply to the classical question “what’s behind the hill?” but can face any eventuality.
At times, pilot and an assistant are transformed into hounds that follow, street after street, a suspect vehicle in the middle of a trafficked road of Bagdad or Mogadishu. They are trying to discover whether there are innocent passengers or terrorist aboard.
The can do the same operations in the case they have to spy on the moves of a vessel off the coast of Somalia or in the Gulf. If it is necessary, they intervene with their firepower. Initially, the United States Air Force trained fighter pilots and air transport pilots. Recently, however, it has opened a school ad hoc, for cadets who have never had flying experience. A decisive move to respond to the growing demand of crews and interventions. During the course of 2009, the USAF disclosed that it had trained more drone operators than traditional pilots. This was made possible by the times required: to form a classic “top gun”, at least 18 months is needed, while for those who have to sit in the cubicles, 6-9 months is sufficient.
Once again, it is the “market” that fixes the conditions and the Generals demand a high number of interventions. Colonel Christopher Chambliss, at the time of our visit, Commander of the 432nd Wing, at Creech, gave us an interesting parameter: “In 2006, we registered 50 thousand flight hours, in 2007, 80 thousand, and the year after 130 thousand”. A growth in utilization and a request that puts the societies that produce the aircrafts, under pressure. It is no mystery that situations of waiting lists are created. All supported by a budget that continues to get larger. From the present 4.4 billion dollars, it will reach 8.7 billion within the next 10 years.
Beyond improving these aircrafts – to permit longer missions and a more extended surveillance – the Americans are working very hard on new weapons. In the large polygon at China Lake (California), tests on small, but lethal missiles are underway. The “Spikes”. Reduced as load, they are conceived to be installed on the Predator, which can carry a good 12 of them. The cost is also advantageous: 5 thousand dollars compared to 100 thousand of the others. The goal is to have a bow with many arrows, to saturate a target and to have a multiplicity of interventions.
The programme of the U.S. Navy and the special units is also interesting, which foresees the use of helicopter-drones. The Special Operation Command, for example, has started to receive 10 Humming birds, produced by Boeing. They are equipped with a special radar, smaller missiles and even a pod where a small load can be stowed.”

Spies and pirates

Parallel and independent of the Pentagon, there is the network of the CIA UAVs. For the very reason it is tied to the Intelligence, it is aimed at the “liquidation” of the terrorists. A plan begun with the now famously known raid in the Yemen and then continued – secretly – in other regions, one of which is certainly the Horn of Africa. Several exponents of the Islamist Shebab movement were hit by incursions entrusted to the drones, even perhaps disguised as traditional aircraft. This judiciousness was used not only because the 007 was involved, but also so as not to jar political and diplomatic sensibilities.
Also the Air Force has its pieces in the African Continent. At the end of August, details emerged regarding a programme which provides for the deployment of a number of Reapers and patrol planes P3 at the Seychelles. The Air Force will send 75 men to the Archipelago to manage the small task force which will be dedicated to the surveillance of the Somalia waters and possible for “seek and destroy” missions. Like the other UAV, the pilots will remain in the USA and will control the aircrafts by satellite.

In the judgment of the Pentagon, the drones ensure major flexibility and rapidity of intervention in a phase where new pirate incursions are expected. Furthermore, the Reapers can keep track of the possible mother ships for longer periods and act only when there is the certainty that assault boats have put to sea. So, in particular cases, the unmanned aircraft will guarantee an armed escort service in the formation of merchant ships. The choice of the Seychelles is not a random one. The Archipelago is a strategic position: it has no adequate defence and, in recent months, has seen the pirates move dangerously close to its waters.
Another arena is that known as “Afpak”, i.e. Afghanistan and Pakistan. The drones take-off from two bases. The first is at Shamsi, in Pakistani territory. A strip which was once used by sheikhs of the Persian Gulf, who came to hunt with falcons. The second is found, instead, on the other side of the border, at Jalalbad. The Control Station is much farther away, at Molesworth, in Great Britain.
Indiscreet leaks from the Press disclosed that the personnel who ensured logistics – missile loads, maintenance – were supplied by the famous private security company, “Blackwater”. Collaboration, in fact, which was much deeper. Always journalistic sources – afterwards officially confirmed – disclosed that the US Intelligence had asked men of the “company” to organize “seek and kill” teams to eliminate Quaedist terrorists.
The Intelligence has a double need in its recourse to the drones. First and foremost, the necessity of having a long arm with which to reach the targets in their shelters in places where it is not expected. The second is to be able to monitor a militant continuously, without having to risk precious men. The capture of an undercover agent would have disastrous consequences and would open complex diplomatic scenarios.
The same evaluation is made for a pilot of a spy aircraft. It is sufficient to remember what happened to Gary Power, shot down by the Soviets aboard a U-2, or with the crew of a military aircraft forced to land in China. The UAV can represent an answer to these preoccupations and, in certain situations, encloses three different functions: discovery, monitoring and elimination.
Other theatres and other protagonists: the conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis. The Jewish State, especially after the second intifada, put together the work of the internal espionage – like the Shin Bet – and that of the military, to better utilize the drones. A continuation of what was done almost 30 years ago. In the summer of 1982, it was the small drones to deceive the Syrian missile and radar systems in the Lebanese Valley of Bekaa, permitting the Israeli Aviation a resounding victory over its adversaries. An important lesson on the versatility of the UAV and of how they are able to influence a conflict. Later, the aircrafts were massively employed in the campaign of aimed homicides, which struck the principal Palestinian formations, from Hamas to the Al Aqsa Brigade.
Compared to the Americans, the Israelis have given much less publicity on the conducting of the raids. No details on the system or the aircraft. A tactic that protects their secrets and leaves the adversaries in uncertainty. There are no official confirmations, but the two principal leaders of the Islamic Hamas movement, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his deputy, Abdul Aziz Rantissi, were killed with the participation – direct or indirect – of the unmanned aircrafts. The Palestinians have often attributed to the drones, both the launch of Hellfire (modified in Israel for the target killing) and the remote activation of loads of explosives hidden in the cars of the targets.
From the sky to the earth. The Israelis, strongly convinced of the importance of war robots and attentive to what has emerged from recent warfare experiences, have other surprises in store. For example, the study of an armoured remote controlled vehicle, code name “Phoenix”, which should carry arms, food supplies and equipment to advanced units, who have, perhaps, finished under fire. This would avoid the risk of sending a helicopter or other military. “Phoenix”, if it passes all tests, will go to support other inventions of the same type. The Israeli sappers count on the “Black Thunder”, a huge bulldozer D9, useful in situations of combat with formations of insurgents, to sweep away barricades or knock down walls. The Navy, instead, have the “Proctor”, an armed mini-patrol boat, which will have its “christening” in the waters in front of the Gaza Strip. Lastly, the units in the south have received the “Guardium”, a highly mobile sentry robot.
The long experience of the Americans and Israelis has led to a new phenomenon: that of the UAV for rent. The Turks, for example, turned to Jerusalem, which supplied, on leasing, a number of drones employed in the fight against the Kurdish separatists of the Pkk. And the same thing happened in Macedonia during the Kosovo conflict. The Israeli products appeared in August 2008, in the Caucuses. The Georgians deployed them on the battle field to monitor the movements of the Red Army. Perhaps two were shot down by enemy fighters.
Another aspect. The “fever” of the UAV has infected the guerrillas of the Hezbollah, who have received several from the Iranian allies. Other than missions for military reconnaissance, the militants of the “Party of God” could employ them, arming them with explosive loads. During the war of the summer of 2006, which the guerrillas opposed to the Jewish State, the Hezbollah made two take-offs, with scarce results. More a propaganda gesture than an attack.
The amateur studies of certain militant Palestinians of Hamas merit a mention – not for the real impact, but for the significance. With formulas and data obtained via Internet, they had the idea of modifying small remote controlled aircraft – those sold in model aircraft making shops – to equip them with small loads. Without adequate technical knowledge, they turned to a sympathetic Saudi engineer via Internet. But the mission proved to be really impossible.

The impact

The acknowledgement that, at a tactical level, the drones have a devastating impact, comes from the terrorists themselves. With statements – unusual for them – the militant leaders have underlined how much their activities can be compromised by these machines.

Recently, Abu Yahya Al Libi, one of the Qaedist inspirers, has diffused on Internet, a 150 page book to alert companions on the presence of spies in their ranks and how these “moles” often facilitate, with different instruments, the air incursions of the enemy; missions often completed by Predators and Reapers. Preoccupations which are also shared by exponents of guerrilla formations (non Qaedist) engaged in facing organized armies.
Sometimes, the fears of the presence of a drone involve significant changes in the modus vivendi of an extremist or terrorist movement.
First of all, the UAV threat pushes the militants – the Heads, in particular – to use great caution: they reduce movements to a minimum, remaining perennially in safe houses or even in bunkers, and to avoid being intercepted, they are very careful over the use of communication apparatuses.
The second point concerns the secrecy within the group. The drones can see a lot, but the terrorists tend to attribute exaggerated capacity to them. This, however, makes the terrorists paranoiac, almost hysterical, and forces them to keep vigilance very high. This is why Al Libi felt the necessity to write an ad hoc text.
The third element is that of invincibility. The UAV breaks into the sanctuaries of the terrorists, not only blowing off their heads, but also destroying the security system. After every raid, they have to ask themselves how it had been possible and where they can hide.
The fourth point is tied more directly to the everyday operations. The drones can render the lives of the artificers of terror very difficult, those bands that usually lay the traps with improvised explosive devices for the patrols, from Iraq to Afghanistan. Once, the attacker had to ascertain that there were no military nearby and then they could hide the device under the asphalt or inside an animal carcass. Now the “invisible” surprise can arrive from heaven.
Finally, there are the possible backlashes on the chain of command. Remaining hidden, the leaders have difficulty in keeping track of the movement or to feed the media campaign. This explains why in cases of crisis, the “emirs” can become ghosts. They disappear and the counter propaganda can sustain that they are “perhaps dead”. An emergency situation of variable lengths.
If the offensive area is sustained and persistent or the movement has not created a Plan B (type: a retreat from which video messages can be launched) many weeks can pass before the Heads re-emerge. The experience of the last conflicts – Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Gaza – has, however, shown a capacity of adaptation to the “bunker life”, even if in the brief periods, the leaders prefer to stay “in the caves”.

The polemics

The American and Israeli Intelligence, with the O.K. of the two respective Governments, consider the recourse to the drones irreplaceable. The UAVs function, represent a deterrent, have made important strikes and supply an extremely wide range of interventions. An evaluation which, nevertheless, in the first months of 2009, found criticism. Experts of terrorism and counter guerrilla warfare in the United States warned the Barack Obama Administration that: the tactical advantages of the raids entrusted to the drones could compromise the strategic results. Objections tied, above all, to what happens along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but extendable also to other theatres, such as Somalia. Leader of the controversy, David Kilkullen, an Australian who has become one of the most heeded Pentagon Advisors and “star” of the analysts at Washington. His reservations are tied to the collateral damage and to the impact on the civil population. Not only terrorists die in the raids, but also civilians. And this provokes strong resentment towards the West. Furthermore, the incursions of the phantom aircrafts create a mentality of siege in some regions: the machines are reported everywhere and they are attributed with explosions and victims even when they do not provoked them.
Kilkullen and others say: “if we want to conquer hearts and minds to win the final battle, we must be ready to sacrifice some blitz”. A direct suggestion accompanied by a marked relief. The drones are a tactical response and not a strategic one –they say – do not create illusions of being able to resolve the problems by using flying robots. Another corollary: they are useful in anti-terrorist functions, but not in counter-guerilla warfare. The problem is that in certain theatres of military operation, the insurgents resort also to terrorism and vice versa.
Professor Bruce Hoffman, “father” of the scholars of international terrorism, is even more frank: “we deceive ourselves if we think the solution comes from drones”. Or, however, from the incursions that aim at decapitating an organization. And remember how after the killing of Abu Musab Al Zarkawi, referent of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the movement continued to organize devastating attacks. Some analysts trace a parallel with the bombardments of the villages, made by France, to crush – without result – the Algerian revolt. Obviously, this concerns not only the unmanned aircrafts, but also traditional fighters. The same Commander of the US Forces in Afghanistan, General McChristal, has ordered extreme caution in resorting to air weapons. “If there exist doubts or fears of error – the disposition is – it is better to renounce their release”. Less responsive to the call are those of the Intelligence, who consider, by now, the drone as an extension of their arm.
And also among the officials of the Aviation, there are those who reply: the UAV can reduce the margin of error, since it has more time before launching a missile and behind each mission there are a good number of people who can decide in real time.

The Robocop

At Fort Irwin, California, the Pentagon has created one of the most realistic polygons in the world. It is composed of firing areas, advanced bases, networks of asphalt and non-asphalt roads, heliports etc. But, above all, it also has a dozen or so fake villages, reproductions of the kind found by soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are mosques, shops, houses and – naturally – the inhabitants. A good number are Afghans and Iraqi, increased in number by extras recruited in the neighbourhood. At Fort Irwin, we followed the exercises of a “digitalized” division of infantry. Each vehicle, each team is integrated in a computerized system, which permits the receiving and re-launching of data in real time. The Commanders have on their screens, maps that indicate the positions of the single units and vehicles. This allows extremely rapid times of reaction, facilitates the support actions and permits having very precise information on what is happening during a clash.
This type of equipment is in continual evolution and, notwithstanding budget cuts, new developments are ongoing.
The United States Army has decided to revitalize a programme that had been cancelled: the Ground Soldier Ensemble (GSE), to equip units of the Special Forces with a new kit.
Every soldier will receive a Gps signaller, a digital radio, a minicomputer and, above all, a small monocle placed in the helmet. On this optical apparatus a digital map will be transmitted where the position of other soldiers and possible facilities will be shown. Not only this, buildings or structures will be identified with particular lights, in such a way as to signal whether a house has been cleared or must still be controlled. It will also be possible to indicate the presence of enemies: an important apparatus in urban fighting.
Technicians are still working to reduce the weight of the kit. In the past, the soldiers who had tried the original version had complained that the weight reduced the rapidity of their movements.
The GSE represents a closer step to the so-called “Robocop soldier”, a kind of warrior very similar to the militias of “Star Wars”. In the future, they will wear a uniform that will change like the skin of a chameleon, according to the surrounding environment. Also the anti-bullet protection will become “variable”: it will be light in normal situations, but will become hyper-resistant when it “feels” the nearing of a bullet. The helmet will entirely cover the head and on the visor, orders and indications will be transmitted. A microphone will translate the voice of the military in whatever language is requested. A breathing apparatus will allow the soldier to act in poisonous or contaminated environments. Regarding arms: multi-barrel mini-guns will be used, which employ particular bullets that “follow” the target, and conventional munition in close combat. Marvellous technologies which are promised by the scientists, but which, obviously, will have to undergo many tests.


The appearance in the skies of drones as air components of the armed robots represents only the beginning of a season where no-one can predict limits or developments. Once an instrument that functions is found, it is difficult to abandon it, if anything, it will undergo modifications to improve it. The basic idea that animates many projects is that of reducing, to a minimum, the consequences for the personnel, and to load the weight of the mission onto the technological shoulders of the UAV. Reasons: because, with the drone, missions can be attempted which to date, have been judged prohibitive or too hazardous to be undertaken: because the flying machines will have apparatus that make them superior to any other means for certain types of intervention. A success on the battlefield enriched by the union with the classical actions of the Intelligence.
Indeed, we can say that the UAV could create the working together – even if only in certain areas – of “departments” which do not enjoy speaking with each other, which are reluctant to share secrets and which are, often, in competition. It will be the aircraft that represents the point of synthesis.
In recognizing the value of the “jewel”, it would be an error to underestimate the human component. It is a man who pilots this machine and for this reason a new “race” of special “top-gun” is coming into existence. It is always a man who presses the firing button, and for this, the soldier assumes a very particular role. Contrary to what might be believed, it is not “like being in a videogame”. In the final analysis, it is always a man who evaluates and analyzes what the electronic eye of the drone captures.
As the American officials confirmed at the Creech Base, in Nevada, and the Italian whom we met on several occasions, to maintain the fleet and the pilots requires an enormous effort. The personnel are not sufficient and often, they are under great stress. Always more personnel are required insofar as the list of interventions lengthens in an exponential way.
After 100 hours of flight, a Predator returns to the hanger where it receives maintenance and is put in line. It is not so automatic for a pilot and his operator. This is to say that if it is right to be so fascinated by an unbeatable robot, then as much attention must be given to who sits in the cabin of command. Because, let us remember, the images transmitted by the drone represent that which the drone sees in that moment. And, therefore, it is a partial truth.

Lockheed D 21 (

General Atomics MQ-1 Predator UAV
( Foto Ansa)

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper ( http://upload.wikimedia/commons)

Boing A 160 Hummingbird

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk