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The Future of Drones [FR EXCLUSIVE! SCCOP!]
Various ^ | 8/16/2003 | Southack

Posted on 08/16/2003 8:08:30 AM PDT by Southack

Although unheralded by the mainstream press (of whose members few would even be capable of recognizing the importance of such an event), a few American civilians were celebrating their tiny model airplane's 1,821 mile flight this week as if Christmas had arrived early.

Their tiny TAM-5, equipped with a satellite phone, computer, and GPS successfully guided itself from North America to Europe.
There was no pilot aboard.
Considering the successes of large-scale, multi-million Dollar drones in the War on Terror (e.g. killing high-ranking Taliban with a hellfire missile in Afghanistan and killing high-ranking al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen with a similar weapon launched from yet another unmanned drone), it is worth noting that these civilians built an unmanned drone for the Scrooge-like sum of mere thousands of Dollars, and then flew it across the entire Atlantic ocean on six Dollars worth of gasoline to within 35 feet of its designated target area.
When one examines the history of self-guided drones (some included below from various sources), it becomes clear that drone technology is becoming either cheaper to build, more accurate, and/or with greater range each year.
So while we may be flying a half dozen pricey, unmanned military drones to patrol our borders in places like Florida and Arizona today, and while we are flying a few dozen such drones over more hostile territory in the Middle East and Asia this year, it won't take yet another rocket scientist to figure out that in the future, super-cheap drones are going to be swarming over battlefields in quantities that may very well number into the hundreds of thousands at a time.
Moreover, we have to come to grips with the fact that mere civilians can build these inexpensive drones, as well as that they have now been proven to be able to fly non-stop across entire oceans.
The particular drone in question, the TAM-5, is actually a more complicated version than necessary.  Rather than write the software needed to self-guide this particular craft internally, someone else may opt to simply pilot it via its satellite telephone link and remote computer instructions, much in the same way that countless model aircraft are already radio controlled today.
What military won't be enticed to operate such simple, stealthy craft that cost so little and fly so far, yet that could relay back inexpensive digital video for intelligence gathering purposes (not to forget the additional potential for either arming the craft directly, or to use the craft to mark a target via laser or GPS coordinates)?!
This is the future of drones.  Inexpensive civilian versions of which have already flown themselves across the Atlantic Ocean on $6 worth of gas.
And while the mainstream media won't be clever enough to see any significance in this event, don't make the mistake of thinking that various military and terrorist organizations will be so dull.
Likewise, it shouldn't surprise anyone to see various Patriot organizations flying such craft across Cuba, Iran, and North Korea...dropping pro-freedom leaflets and causing major headaches for the tyrants in power in those regions.
And who knows, if the media is ever barred from some celebrity's outdoor wedding one day, even the press may see fit to operate a couple of these drones in order to beam back low quality [pun intended] live video feeds.

TAM-5's North American Launch
Maynard with Tam5
Mannin Beach
Tam 5 where it landed at Mannin Beach, Ireland
Photo courtesy of Ronan Coyne

By the late 1930s, Goddard grew troubled. He had noticed long before that of all the countries that showed an interest in rocketry, Germany showed the most. Now and then, German engineers would contact Goddard with a technical question or two, and he would casually respond. But in 1939 the Germans suddenly fell silent. With a growing concern over what might be afoot in the Reich, Goddard paid a call on Army officials in Washington and brought along some films of his various liquid-fueled Nell rockets. He let the generals watch a few of the launches in silence, then turned to them. "We could slant it a little," he said simply, "and do some damage." The officers smiled benignly at the missile man, thanked him for his time and sent him on his way. The missile man, however, apparently knew what he was talking about. Five years later, the first of Germany's murderous V-2 rockets blasted off for London. By 1945, more than 1,100 of them had rained down on the ruined city.

Rebuffed by the Army, Goddard spent World War II on sabbatical from rocketry, designing experimental airplane engines for the Navy. When the war ended, he quickly returned to his preferred work. As his first order of business, he hoped to get his hands on a captured V-2. From what he had heard, the missiles sounded disturbingly like his more peaceable Nells. Goddard's trusting exchanges with German scientists had given Berlin at least a glimpse into what he was designing. What's more, by 1945 he had filed more than 200 patents, all of which were available for inspection. When a captured German scientist was asked about the origin of the V-2, he was said to have responded, "Why don't you ask your own Dr. Goddard? He knows better than any of us." When some V-2s finally made their way to the U.S. and Goddard had a chance to autopsy one, he instantly recognized his own handiwork. "Isn't this your rocket?" an assistant asked as they poked around its innards. "It seems to be," Goddard replied flatly.

Goddard accepted paternity of his bastard V-2, and that, as it turned out, was the last rocket he fathered while alive. In 1945 he was found to have throat cancer, and before the year was out, he was dead. His technological spawn, however, did not stop. American scientists worked alongside emigre German scientists to incorporate Goddard's innovations into the V-2, turning the killer missile into the Redstone, which put the first Americans into space. The Redstone led directly to the Saturn moon rockets, and indirectly to virtually every other rocket the U.S. has ever flown.

Though Goddard never saw a bit of it, credit would be given him, and--more important to a man who so disdained the press--amends would be made. After Apollo 11 lifted off en route to humanity's first moon landing, The New York Times took a bemused backward glance at a tart little editorial it had published 49 years before. "Further investigation and experimentation," said the paper in 1969, "have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century, and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error." The grim Professor Goddard might not have appreciated the humor, but he would almost certainly have accepted the apology.


BORN Oct. 5, 1882, in Worcester, Mass.

1908 Begins studying physics at Clark University

1915 Proves that rocket engines can produce thrust in a vacuum

1926 Launches the first liquid-fueled rocket to an altitude of 41 ft.

1930 Begins working in Roswell, N.Mex; develops supersonic and multi-stage rockets and fin-guided steering

1945 Dies at age 62, holding 214 patents

V-1 'Buzz Bomb'

V-1 'Buzz Bomb'


In June 1944, the German army began the use of what would be a very unique, very deadly, and historical weapon called the V1. The 'V' stood for Vergeltungswaffe which meant "vengeance weapon." Better known to Londoners as the "Buzz Bombs" or "doodlebugs," these flying bombs made a very distinct sound as they flew overhead at low altitude, before the timing mechanisms expired, and the bomb fell to earth, and exploded.


A US Navy's JB-2 called the LTV-A-1, ready for launch from a submarine (November, 1944)

In July 1944, Northrop received a contract to develop the JB-1 turbojet-powered flying bomb under project MX-543. Northrop designed a flying-wing aircraft with two General Electric B1 turbojets in the center section, and two 900 kg (2000 lb) general purpose bombs in enclosed "bomb containers" in the wing roots. To test the aerodynamics of the design, one JB-1 was completed as a manned unpowered glider, which was first flown in August 1944.

Dragon-Eye battlefield drone
Predator  Long-endurance, Hellfire-armed (not shown) battlefield drone
Global Hawk Earth-navigating drone (900KG payload, 14,000 nautical mile range)

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: domesticdrones; drone; drones; dronesus; globalhawk; hughsccop; predator; sccop; tam5; uav
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1 posted on 08/16/2003 8:08:31 AM PDT by Southack
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To: Luis Gonzalez; JohnHuang2; rdb3; mhking; Trueblackman; BlkConserv; radiohead; Tuco-bad; ...
Civilian drones flying over hostile Cuba, dropping pro-freedom leaflets?!

It can be done. TAM-5 just flew across the entire Atlantic.

Welcome to the future of drones.

2 posted on 08/16/2003 8:11:16 AM PDT by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack
What about some islamoscumbag flying one of these full of some WMD into America? How do we stop this?
3 posted on 08/16/2003 8:13:21 AM PDT by fortaydoos
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To: Southack
The Global Hawk looks completely incapable of flight. However, I must admit that my background in aerospace engineering is limited to making paper airplanes as a kid.
4 posted on 08/16/2003 8:18:55 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: fortaydoos
What about some islamoscumbag flying one of these full of some WMD into America? How do we stop this?

Don't worry, Skynet becomes active in 1 year, 2 months and roughly 20 days, give or take. MS Blaster was a test deployment of Skynet, which will take over all such automated tools and use them for a good purpose.....

5 posted on 08/16/2003 8:20:56 AM PDT by Phsstpok
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To: Southack
Previous related thread
6 posted on 08/16/2003 8:22:10 AM PDT by martin_fierro (A v v n c v l v s M a x i m v s)
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To: Southack
Drones go way back. Elmer Sperry developed the auto pilot allegedly so that he could have sex while flying. Elmer worked with General Motors' Charles Kettering on an unmanned biplane project in the 20s. A young Colonel Hap Arnold was the Army project manager. Based on that project (The Kettering "Bug" ) it was realized that self guiding drones could not reliably hit a target the size of a small city at a distance of 60 miles. Hap Arnold began to push for large manned bombers. The B-10, B-17, B-24 and B-29 were his legacy.

Using a communications link is not a terribly viable option. Aside from the potential for an enemy to jam you, communications links drop out, and your drone beasty would need to have a large tail (to be aerodynamically stable) cutting its range, or have enough smarts to continue on its way until the communications link was reestablished.
7 posted on 08/16/2003 8:24:19 AM PDT by donmeaker (Bigamy is one wife too many. So is monogamy.)
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To: Dog Gone
"The Global Hawk looks completely incapable of flight. "

The darned thing has wings that don't quit. The tough thing is keeping it on the ground in a light breeze. The powerplant is a turbofan, so it has plenty of thrust. V tails are less draggy than most other tail structures.

What's not to like?
8 posted on 08/16/2003 8:27:29 AM PDT by donmeaker (Bigamy is one wife too many. So is monogamy.)
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To: donmeaker
It looks like they attached wings to this:

9 posted on 08/16/2003 8:39:19 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Southack
Or, while it may not be PC, how about an armed, bird-sized drone to eliminate our North Korean friend? Could probably get in and out without detection.
10 posted on 08/16/2003 8:41:35 AM PDT by Buck W.
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To: Phsstpok
Don't worry, Skynet becomes active in 1 year, 2 months and roughly 20 days, give or take

I thought it was around April or May of next year, according to the movie.

But what do I know, I'm not a Pak protector.

11 posted on 08/16/2003 8:41:42 AM PDT by Eala (When politicians speak of children, count the spoons. - National Review Editors)
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To: Buck W.
How do you think that we detected the gas releases of North Korea's nuclear program?!
12 posted on 08/16/2003 8:44:33 AM PDT by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack
Correct, of course, but my fantasy (?) is to go the extra mile & arm a drone as an accurate, stealthy, remotely-targeted sniper.
13 posted on 08/16/2003 8:51:50 AM PDT by Buck W.
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To: Buck W.
Hellfire Sniper Attack From Drone

The Predator (RealVideo)

Wreckage of exploded car in Yemen
Wreckage of exploded car in Yemen (AP Photo / APTN)

The Hellfire Missile (43K)
The Hellfire Missile (43K) (Newsday)

More Coverage
More Worries About Bio-Attack Protection
Nov 5, 2002

A Blow to Al-Qaida

By Knut Royce and Craig Gordon
Washington Bureau

Washington -- A missile launched by a CIA drone killed a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden in Yemen as U.S. forces expanded their overt attacks on the al-Qaida network outside Afghanistan for the first time, knowledgeable sources said yesterday.

Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi was one of a half-dozen al-Qaida members traveling in northwest Yemen when a Hellfire missile struck their car and killed them all Sunday, according to the official Yemeni news agency and local tribesmen.

Al-Harethi was a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, in October 2000. He was bin Laden's chief operative in Yemen and has been a leading target of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

A Yemeni official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "Authorities have been monitoring this particular car for awhile and we believe those men belonged to the al-Qaida terror network."

President George W. Bush did not comment directly on the Yemen incident, but reiterated that he is determined to break up al-Qaida. He called al-Qaida members "international killers" and said they can be found only by being "patient and steadfast ... "

"And the United States of America is doing just that," Bush said. "We're in it for the long haul."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to confirm al-Harethi's death yesterday, but said, "It would be a very good thing if he were out of business."

Neither the Pentagon nor the CIA would comment on the attack, though defense officials said the aircraft that fired the missile didn't belong to the Defense Department. Other sources said the missile came from a CIA-operated drone aircraft -- a Predator -- which the CIA used extensively in Afghanistan to fire Hellfire missiles at suspected terrorist leaders.

Witnesses said they saw a helicopter in the area of the explosion, in the northern province of Marib, about 100 miles east of Yemen's capital of San'a, where al-Qaida is considered active. Helicopters also can fire Hellfire missiles.

The attack in Yemen marks a new phase of the global war on terror, with the CIA making a highly visible attack against suspected al-Qaida leaders in another nation.

News of the missile strike came as the Pentagon announced it is creating a special military command to monitor and pursue terrorists on the Horn of Africa. About 800 Army Special Forces soldiers already are based in the tiny nation of Djibouti, and a headquarters element of 400 Marines will run the command, with more possibly joining later.

Gen. Richard Myers, Joint Chiefs chairman, described the Horn of Africa -- it includes Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, as well as Yemen across the Red Sea -- as a region in which "terrorists can gather and either do operational planning or training ... We're very interested in the area for that reason and have positioned forces there to take appropriate action."

Yemen is bin Laden's ancestral home.

Sources say the Yemeni government is highly sensitive to U.S. forces carrying out attacks on its soil, leading to the refusal by U.S. government officials to confirm the operation. In fact, early reports of the incident by the official Yemeni news agency said merely that the car blew up, suggesting the men were carrying a bomb for a terror attack that went off by accident.

The government of Yemen "wanted this to look like a bunch of guys blew themselves up in a work accident. The worst thing for their government is that they cooperated with the U.S. government on this matter," said a knowledgeable source. "But it was a hell of a success."

The source said two of the others in the car were a communications officer for al-Qaida and someone involved in al-Qaida finances, though Yemeni officials said the five appeared to be relatively low-level operatives.

CNN reported in February that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salih had said his security forces were seeking two top al-Qaeda operatives in connection with the Cole bombing -- al -- Harethi and Hamdi al-Ahdal, also known as Abu Assem. It is not known if al-Ahdal was in the car Sunday.

Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.

14 posted on 08/16/2003 8:55:36 AM PDT by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack
Would be great for stopping the flow of illegals into the country, no? Remote surveillance of hundreds of square miles of land.
15 posted on 08/16/2003 8:59:38 AM PDT by ikka
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To: Southack
Great post. Thanks!
16 posted on 08/16/2003 9:00:08 AM PDT by BenLurkin (Socialism is slavery)
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To: fortaydoos
What about some islamoscumbag flying one of these full of some WMD into America? How do we stop this?

At the source, or not at all...

17 posted on 08/16/2003 9:00:30 AM PDT by null and void
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To: Southack
Thanks for the thought provoking post. Do you see any near-term useful commercial applications for low cost drones? I don't have much confidence in the military to make anything low cost, but they can't ignore commercial developments.
18 posted on 08/16/2003 9:01:40 AM PDT by Ranger
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To: Phsstpok

19 posted on 08/16/2003 9:04:33 AM PDT by BenLurkin (Socialism is slavery)
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To: Dog Gone
Saw one of those broken down by the side of the 15 freeway between Baker and Las Vegas not too long ago.
20 posted on 08/16/2003 9:06:07 AM PDT by BenLurkin (Socialism is slavery)
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