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  • the Aladin (Abbildende Luftgestützte Aufklärungsdrohne im Nächstbereich, i.e. airborne reconnaissance drone for close area imaging for "urban reconnaissance and surveillance of individuals"),

  • the CL-289 (commonly developed by Germany, Canada and France),

  • the LUNA drone (Luftgestützte Unbemannte Nahaufklärungs- Ausstattung, i.e. unmanned airborne reconnaissance system),

  • X-13 (which enables the expansion of surveillance over the horizon), and

  • the Fan-Copter (a German military UAV that is not steered via GPS). [11]

Flight operation under the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV system 'Heron TP', which was developed for the German SAATEG (System zur abbildenden Aufklärung in der Tiefe des Einsatzgebiets, i.e. imaging system reaching far into deployment areas) military programme by Rheinmetall Defence and the Israel Aerospace Industries, [12] commenced in March 2010. [13] The Barracuda UAV project is still in the testing phase. [14] The "airborne divisions" of the German army use the Mikado and KZO systems (Kleinfluggerät Zielortung, i.e. small aircraft for target location). [15] The latter is also produced by Rheinmetall Defence but is in the testing phase. [16] The German air force’s deployment of UAVs predominantly occurs during missions abroad and has doubled in recent years (2006: 1,494; 2007: 2,115 and 2008: 3,471). In 2008, the Aladin system was used in 75% of all cases. [17]

The "3-D missions", described by Air Force Inspector Lieutenant-General Klaus-Peter Stieglitz as the "dull, dirty and dangerous ones," [18] began with "the arrival of hunter-killer UAVs.” [19] Their (deadly) missions are directed against alleged militant Palestinians (since the 1980s), alleged Islamic fundamentalist in Afghanistan, [20] Pakistan [21] and Iraq [22] as well as any resident civilians in those regions. Several studies have argued that UAV’s will take on an even more "deadly design" [23] and there is speculation about the arrival of an "ethical fighting robot". [24] In 2009, [25] UAVs such as the US 159 Predator or Reaper were guided by pilots who, while steering their drones over combat zones, were sitting behind computers half an hour's drive from Las Vegas. [26]

The cited advantages of UAVs over manned reconnaissance flights are of a military and budgetary nature: it is argued that soldiers do not have to risk their lives, that the systems are quicker and cheaper than airplanes or helicopters and that they can move inconspicuously, especially in mountainous and urban areas. The psychological effect of UAVs on their victims is also highlighted: the feeling of being detectable at any moment, it is argued, compels enemy forces to remain constantly on the move thereby weakening their fighting strength. [27] As one US military representative put it: "They can run, but that just means they are going to die tired." [28]


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