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The Raven is each launched by hand by soldiers on the ground. It is small and lightweight, made out styrofoam, though it has a tough kevlar skin.  (Source: Newsweek/Xaquin G.V.)

The UAVs, including the Raven coordinate Apache strikes -- in this case on a car.  (Source: Newsweek/Xaquin G.V)
Against a civilian enemy that can strike anywhere UAVs are rewriting the book on reconnaissance and military strikes by offering a view of the battlefield at all times.

Every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, dozens Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS) hover in the skies stalking their enemy.  Some simply snap pictures; others carry out far more deadly missions.  But cumulatively they are opening a new high tech chapter in the way America wages war.

Duke of Wellington, conqueror of Napoleon at Waterloo and a savvy tactician once noted, "The whole art of war consists of getting at what is on the other side of the hill."

However, the changing face of war is not merely in defeating the enemy -- it’s also in minimizing civilian casualties. Lt. Col. Scott Williams leads a group of Apache helicopters which blow up buildings or "service targets" in military speak with Hellfire missiles. 

Last week in Sadr City, one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq, insurgents fired rockets at the U.S. protected Green Zone.  A UAV spotted the rocket militia in an apartment block.  Williams’ team moved in for the kill.  Then, the UAV spotted children running into and out of the building, playing. 

The strike was called off, and the children who would likely have been killed were safe.  The Apaches instead rained fire down on the rocket launch site that the militia had mostly deserted, killing a few remaining members.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars consist largely of raiding insurgent houses and tracking armed militias.  UAVs, including the ultra-small model airplane size Raven, are invaluable in finding the enemy, checking for civilians in the line of fire, and assessing the enemy's combat readiness.  The Army is even using the drones to look for disturbed Earth to detect Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), a leading cause of war casualties.  Hundreds of the drones are patrolling Iraq at any given time.  Last month alone, the fleet of drones logged 46,450 hours.

GPS and satellite imagery also offer valuable battlefield information, but can only get so close. The UAVs can do an unprecedented level of tracking, including in locations too dangerous to send soldiers.  Some of the drones such as the Predator can send images as far as Germany or Nevada for expert analysis.  And commanders are realizing their utility; Lt. Col. Paul V. Marnon, a battalion commander for the 3CAB and Apache commander states, "We can see into an alleyway, see teams organizing an attack."

The UAV revolution has occurred in the last five years.  When the devices were first deployed in Iraq at the start of the invasion, they were scoffed at as toys.  Now, Marnon says 90 percent of his teams' kills are assisted by UAVs. 

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is frustrated that the U.S. can't deploy UAVs fast enough.  Said Gates in a recent speech, "I've been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets into the theater. Because people were stuck in the old ways of doing things, it's been like pulling teeth."

With his commanders frantically requesting UAV support, Gates pushed through a $240 million boost in spending on reconnaissance surveillance craft.  This will include manned fly overs by civilian contractors as a stop-gap measure.

The UAVs have been around for a long time and are just now starting to earn their dues.  In the past, manned aircraft always stole the attention and funding.  The drone was born at the Van Nuys plant of the Radioplane Co. in the U.S.  The plant in 1944 developed radio controlled drones for surveillance.  From there the drones were sullied into a number of unglamorous purposes including target practice and as decoys.

In 1960, a Japanese-American put a camera on the drones.  After the U2 spy plane crash and the Cuban missile crisis, the government finally took notice.  Ryan-Teledyne deployed over 1,000 of its Firebee drones to Vietnam, taking pictures and jamming radar.  After the war, though, the drones program took a nose dive. 

The Army launched a massive program to develop an advanced drone known as Aquila, but in the end the incredibly expensive device was so loaded it could hardly fly and regularly crashed.  The drones cost $3 million each and the total program totaled to $1 billion.

The Israelis developed cheaper, lighter drones known as the Pioneer which helped in the first Gulf War.  An enemy unit even surrendered to the drone, a first.  However, the drones were too noisy and warned the enemy of their approach. 

When trying to design more efficient models, former CIA commander Jim Woosley approached the Air Force and they told him it would cost $500 million and six years.  He found instead a brilliant Israel Expert formerly working for the Pentagon named Abe Karem, who offered to design his drone in 6 months for only $5 million.

The resulting drone was incredibly useful and won quick support.  Named the Gnat, it shot impressive video.  Soon a modified version, the Predator was equipped with missiles, adding assault to its repertoire.  Many improvements helped to save the Predator from possibly being a dud.  GPS was added. The Hellfire missile, previously made to shoot up over trees, was modified to shoot down, and had a sheathing added which scattered into razor blades, killing enemies and optimally destroying unarmored vehicles.  On November 5, 2003, one of the modified missiles hit an SUV filled with Al Qaeda operatives, leaving the vehicle's oil pan as the only identifiable remains.

Now a new heavier duty, lesser-known model known as the Reaper, is on duty in Iraq.  It has four Hellfire missiles aboard and two 500-lb bombs.  The various armed drones are piloted remotely from Nevada and California, allowing pilots to live normal civilian lives and stay at home with their families when the work day is done -- after killing some terrorists.  Many of the smaller drones, which make up much of the 1,500 drones in Iraq and Afghanistan, are piloted by Marines and soldiers on the battlefront, though.

The drones are battery powered and made of Styrofoam protected in a Kevlar coat.  They weigh only 5 lbs and cost only $35,000 to produce.  They can easily be launched with a flick of the wrist, just like the average model plane.  Special certification is needed to fly larger craft; Sgt. Chris Hermann, 24, is among those certified and he flies them from a padded chair safe in a U.S. military base in the Green Zone.  He states, "Yeah, middle of the desert, aircon and a padded seat, there are worse jobs in Iraq.  We all joke about it.  A monkey can do this job, this bird flies itself, it lands itself."

On bad weather days, Hermann and his buddies stay inside and play Battlefield 2, Call of Duty 4 or The Underground.  He says the drone is like an Atari game -- really basic.  The drones have been invaluable in coordinating airstrikes.  Insurgents have learned to fear the buzz of the drones, which can't always be heard until they're nearby.  Unfortunately, the drones have also led to airstrikes that have killed civilians.  In a sort of grimly ironic jest, Iraqi mothers now warn their children, "Obey or the 'buzz' will come after you."

With more drones and better technology, though, the armed forces are working to reduce civilian casualties.  However, many remain skeptical about efforts such as Northrop-Grumman's $635 million contract to build an unmanned X-47B bomber for the Navy.  And with upcoming debate over fully autonomous killing war robots, both in the sky and on the ground that should be technically feasible within a couple decades, the issue is sure to remain.

However, whether you support or oppose them, the UAVs have had an undeniable effect on the war.  And largely they have helped to give the U.S. soldiers an edge over a shadowy civilian army that would otherwise have them at a disadvantage.

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Not to beat a dead horse any further....
By SiliconAddict on 6/6/2008 11:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
I know talking terrorist is getting out of hand these days, but I'm waiting for the first act of terrorism via such devices. Its trivial to launch one of these in the US. As an example one could launch one, two, or three from several parks and with the appropriate hardware fly it downtown. That being said pretty much anything could be turned into a terrorist tool with enough imagination so.....

RE: Not to beat a dead horse any further....
By shadowfunhaus on 6/10/2008 9:14:28 AM , Rating: 2
That's something that keeps National security people up at night too, I'm sure. Still, It's not a big market yet, so it's pretty easy to track. Unlike, o say, computer terrorists.

RE: Not to beat a dead horse any further....
By Regs on 6/10/2008 12:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
What's to stop one guy with a bag of fertilizer and blowing a federal building up? Who's to stop a kid who flipped his lid and bring in 2 or 3 of his grand fathers guns to school?
Who's going to stop 10 year old religious brain washed kids from blowing themselves in downtown Jerusalem?

No law, no man, no god.

By JimmyC on 6/12/2008 1:43:55 AM , Rating: 2
Who's going to stop 10 year old religious brain washed kids from blowing themselves in downtown Jerusalem?

Actually it will probably the lack of qualified yoga instructors in the region.

By rykerabel on 6/10/2008 1:10:23 PM , Rating: 2
I cannot express how proud and thankful I am for our National Security forces.

I constantly hear about terrorist activities in Europe, but none here. No one can claim that they are not trying. That means that our Security forces are working very well indeed.

Unfortunate Reality
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2008 5:58:00 PM , Rating: 3
Last week in Sadr City, one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq, insurgents fired rockets at the U.S. protected Green Zone. A UAV spotted the rocket militia in an apartment block. Williams’ team moved in for the kill. Then, the UAV spotted children running into and out of the building, playing.

I think its unfortunate, but there are always going to be civilian casualties when the enemy uses an apartment building as a rocket fire base.

Unfortunately, the drones have also led to airstrikes that have killed civilians. In a sort of grimly ironic jest, Iraqi mothers now warn their children, "Obey or the 'buzz' will come after you."

I think your children would be infinitely better off if you warned them NOT to play in buildings where known terrorist are shooting off rockets. But thats just me...

RE: Unfortunate Reality
By FITCamaro on 6/8/2008 9:12:11 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Blame the terrorists for those casualties. We have a choice. We can either kill the terrorists and risk the civilian casualties. Or just let them keep trying to kill us and others.

They are cowards pure and simple. They hide in civilian buildings so that we have to make the choice of whether or not to kill them. I'm sure it haunts those who order and perform the weapons release onto a target like that.

RE: Unfortunate Reality
By ikkeman2 on 6/11/2008 10:34:47 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yes... I forgot. The brave freedom fighters that risk life and limb to fight an infinately better equipped opressor using whatever weapons these opressors send to the last opressor are the cowards...

By JonnyDough on 6/9/2008 8:16:26 AM , Rating: 2
I find it VERY unnerving that we can be so dehumanized that we can sit and kill people as if it's a video game. I am anti-religious, but I have some serious moral issues with this. Am I the only one? When did we stop valuing human life? A life is a life is a life. Who are we to put ourselves before others? Does nobody else see the problem with this? I label you a terrorist, therefore you must die. I label you a communist, therefore you must be hung for treason. America is so lost, it's not even funny. We are repeating history and don't even realize it. Our media and politicians will have us believing anything. How is it that we've been so lulled to sleep? The end of this article states it's a "civilian army." Therefore, why are we killing civilians? How do you label a man as an enemy and then how do you justify killing him? I have never been harmed by an Iraqi that I know of, if he hurt my family, I would surely shoot him. Iraq is nothing but an INVASION/OCCUPATION that many SOLDIERS have even turned against. There are websites of soldiers that are against this war. Why haven't we impeached our president, who OBVIOUSLY entered the white house with an AGENDA. I am sickened and disgusted by my fellow Americans. We have become VERY ethnocentric. If you don't know what that is, I beg you to look it up.

By shadowfunhaus on 6/10/2008 9:11:56 AM , Rating: 2
Lets get one thing straight. The Terrorists favorite pasttime is mortaring Americans from portable launching platforms that they aren't anywhere near. When we catch them, We PAY them to live in our jails!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Because in Islam the male is the "bread winner". so we pay them $250-300 a month to be in our jail, plus food and AC and Electric!!!!!!! When their dining facility breaks, our guards have to give up theirs to the prisoners and eat MREs. When the prisobners AC breaks, the guards give up theirs, and thats even if they get one. And even with all these luxuries, they still try to kill us everyday. Try talking to them, and your not even human to them. Anyone who doesn't believe what they do deserves to die. We help their kids more than they do! We build schools and set up clinics all the time.

I have one question for you Jonny. Are you sexist? Do you just not like Girls going to school, getting educations, and being able to be something other than chattel?

We put more value on human life than anyone else in the world. Look at Africa, where the "benevolent" U.N. has left a legacy of rape and torture that is simply sickening. Their inspectors are Pedophiles, their troops are rapists, and their officers shoot or torture those who complain. And they still rail against our "human rights" violations!! We never signed the Geneva convention, but we are the only country that actually holds its Armed Forces to it. It's the first predeployment briefing most of us get, and they tell us exactly what will happen if we violate it.

Besides, The UAVs help prevent alot of civilian casualties because they can get closer than anything else. And trust me, any predator pilot who killed and noncombatant by accident beat himself up about it for a long time.

By Mousekill on 7/1/2008 12:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand how the location of a person's seat determines how a life is valued. It's the person in that seat that makes that value judgement. The situations are still very real, and the operators know this. Nobody is advocating killing civilians. The term "terrorist" is not very abstract or arbitrarily assigned in Iraq. Terrorists are the people blowing up mosques, schools and markets. And if it's neccesary to kill some of these terrorists in order to prevent them from killing Americans or Iraqi civilians, it seems like a bigger moral failing to allow such actions to continue than it is to kill the terrorist.

Tax dollars NOT at work...
By Noya on 6/7/08, Rating: 0
RE: Tax dollars NOT at work...
By Ringold on 6/7/2008 4:27:45 PM , Rating: 2
I've played Eve Online with a couple Marines in Iraq several times. They couldn't play much else multiplayer as their satellite internet connection was laggy as hell. 1000ms+ to the US.

That said, they played it after working a minimum of 12 hours a day, typically 6 day weeks, so no problem with some Eve in their down time as far as I'm concerned.

RE: Tax dollars NOT at work...
By FITCamaro on 6/8/2008 9:08:33 AM , Rating: 1
So soldiers in Iraq shouldn't be allowed to relax?

And a lot of the entertainment equipment in Iraq for our troops is provided through donations by people who actually appreciate what our troops are doing over there. Here at my work we had a huge collection around last Christmas to send stuff to the troops. People donate 360s, Wiis, PS3s, books, frisbies, board games, etc.

So shut your pie hole.

By shadowfunhaus on 6/10/2008 8:50:50 AM , Rating: 2
DO you have any concept what a "bad weather day is in Iraq" is? Try a day when sand will damage buildings, hurt people, and destroy planes. It costs less to loose a day then train another crew and buy another plane.

drug traffiking
By wordsworm on 6/7/2008 12:56:22 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about you guys, but 35k is pretty cheap. If it can carry so much as 2kg of cocaine or heroin, I can't help but think the drug cartels will also be interested in these.

Anyone else find this amuzing?
By Fnoob on 6/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By JasonMick on 6/6/2008 7:30:12 PM , Rating: 5
The simple optics in your telescope have likely been around for a couple centuries, or if you have a really nice one for about a century.

The complex logistics of remote controlling and receiving images from a spy drone no bigger than a man, halfway around the world, and guiding it with deadly precision is an entirely different matter.

The technology to do that is just now being realized. The point of the article is that drones have been useful but underused for a long time ago, but are just now coming into their own and doing some REALLY amazing stuff like your quote there.

I think you missed that point :(

RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By Fnoob on 6/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By Fnoob on 6/6/2008 10:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
Further - that I found something amusing in one of your articles is a complement, not a criticism.

RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By wordsworm on 6/7/2008 1:00:09 AM , Rating: 2
How do you get your telescope on the moon or Pluto? I'll give you $50 if you can prove your statement.

RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By wordsworm on 6/7/2008 1:02:14 AM , Rating: 2
btw - how did I get an auto down-rate on this post?

RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By Master Kenobi on 6/7/2008 5:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
You replied to a post that was previously rated down. Penalties for "possibly feeding the trolls" I think.

RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By Fnoob on 6/8/2008 2:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
'Master Kenobi, you disappoint me...'

I merely found it funny that the distance from Iraq to Germany and from Iraq to Nevada were seemingly given equivilency.

I would wager the latency is a bit different.

RE: Anyone else find this amuzing?
By Suntan on 6/9/2008 2:38:03 PM , Rating: 4
There is a large US military base in Germany that is used for a lot of relay for operations in Europe and the gulf area.


I don't trust these things
By sh3rules on 6/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: I don't trust these things
By CSMR on 6/6/2008 10:09:42 PM , Rating: 2
A password?

RE: I don't trust these things
By Tsuwamono on 6/6/2008 10:41:14 PM , Rating: 3
thats why its called hacking.

RE: I don't trust these things
By Hare on 6/7/2008 2:47:11 AM , Rating: 3
1) Type
2) Press ctrl-L-O-L
3) Look at the blinking skulls and the numbers being counted down. The beeps become louder as the timer goes down.
4) Look at the fullscreen blinking green text "access granted"
5) Do what you want. Btw, you also gained access to the FBI mainframe.

Isn't this how it's done? I've seen it been done on TV so it must be true. ;)

RE: I don't trust these things
By feraltoad on 6/8/2008 12:18:46 AM , Rating: 2
It wasn't all that easy. I also had to very quickly type garbage in a command window with green text, as you know green is very important (stay away from red!), for thirty seconds and say stuff like, "I'm putting in a back door" before I could say, "Alright, I'm in. It's peanutbutter jelly time".

RE: I don't trust these things
By Duwelon on 6/8/2008 12:54:02 PM , Rating: 2
Ugh, Swordfish flashbacks, corniest crap of a movie i've ever seen!

RE: I don't trust these things
By Cogman on 6/6/2008 10:42:58 PM , Rating: 5
Watching too many comics are we? Despite what TV might claim, hacking into something ISN'T easy, or even possible in a lot of circumstances. How could the army prevent it? RSA 256, a password that is changed regularly, and a non standard (Maybe even modulating) radio transmission frequency. And probably many other encryption/security measures the general public won't know for the next 10-20 years.

But, please, join the media sensationalism of "Hacking" and keep contributing to peoples misinformation of what hacking really is.

RE: I don't trust these things
By Ringold on 6/7/2008 1:02:15 AM , Rating: 2
Battlestar Galactica provides a much more likely scenario than "hacking"; an inside job.

If you don't think its possible to have such a spy, then I'd say you hadn't read quite enough news over the last couple years. I think it was Investors Business Daily I read about spies last, but they reported that the number of spies providing foreign governments with information due to ideological motivations rather than money was surging. The number was actually disconcerting; proof that even though the Cold War is long past that old school espionage is still alive and well.

I even recall seeing on CNN a report not long ago, they even showed a picture of some foreign agent handing cold, hard cash to a DoD official in return for information.

My hope would be that one individual wouldn't have access to all the information necessary to pull off such a feat, or that even if they did that encryption changing on the fly or something would still provide a potent defense even if they knew how it worked, but I wouldn't say it's not possible, not for a foreign government with people on the inside and vast resources to bring to bare.

RE: I don't trust these things
By MrPickins on 6/7/2008 11:27:22 AM , Rating: 2
Don't believe everything you hear on TV. Much of it is fear mongering.

RE: I don't trust these things
By Ringold on 6/7/2008 4:18:39 PM , Rating: 2
Trailer trash working at Los Alamos had access to nuclear weapons data and was taking it home to scan it; fact. China and other nations are engaging in espionage inside our defense industry and military; fact. The number of spies forking over data to foreign enemies over ideological reasons is up, not down; fact.

This data is all verifiable with Google, and a lot of it is an entertaining read. Particularly the trailer trash articles. I don't get my news from The Daily Show. I was simply pointing out that contrary to the position of the person I was replying to, it wouldn't be at all impossible.

RE: I don't trust these things
By jRaskell on 6/9/2008 12:56:25 PM , Rating: 2
While Google is an excellent source for gathering information, it is NOT, in any way whatsoever, an adequate tool for verifying actual fact. Such a tool doesn't even exist, and if it did it would have absolutely nothing at all to do with the Internet, because the real act of verifying information to be fact or not is incredibly difficult, and anybody spouting off so many generic statements as explicitly factual frankly has no clue.

RE: I don't trust these things
By JonnyDough on 6/9/2008 11:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
Fear mongering? You mean propaganda? Take the Iraq invasion/occupation, for example. There's a reason we lose money to things like insurance, ridiculous taxation, and bad investments.

It's because we believe and trust the media. In other countries (like China) it is known that the media is chock full of crap. Why we Americans trust our government/media so much I'll never know. It's this other little lie we've been fed, called democracy. Simply put, it no longer exists. Sure, it might have at one time. Back when there were a mere 13 colonies. But how much say do we actually have now? I've heard people get on here and say "you can vote" or, "lobby", "write your congressman" and I just have to think, "wow." The last time a congressman actually read a letter from a civilian was...hmm.

RE: I don't trust these things
By Strunf on 6/7/2008 12:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
It may not be easy but it isnt impossible... the single fact that many gouvernement agencies have been hacked in a way or another is good enough to show that it can be done.

10-20 ? All the depends on the computing power, you build a couple quantum computers and that time would be greatly reduced... also you don't need to forcefully break the code, you can analyze it's pattern and get the same result in far less time, that is unless you find a backdoor and it becomes even easier.

RE: I don't trust these things
By FITCamaro on 6/8/2008 8:56:07 AM , Rating: 2
Yes because you can go on newegg and pick up those parts for a quantum computer.

The quantum computers that exist today aren't even factly verified to be quantum computers. Sure we have terms like q-bit out there now but really, they don't work like they do in the movies.

RE: I don't trust these things
By Polynikes on 6/8/2008 1:11:16 PM , Rating: 2
As far as I know, insurgents haven't figured out how to crack our basic radio encryption, so I'm pretty sure our UAVs' comm encryption is safe.

By 457R4LDR34DKN07 on 6/8/2008 11:45:58 PM , Rating: 2
Well you could if you knew how, Sierra II encryption... good luck

RE: I don't trust these things
By jvillaro on 6/7/2008 5:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yes they will be hacked by the super cyborg ninja monkeys we saw here a few days back.
Beware and collect a lot of bananas so we can negociate!!!

RE: I don't trust these things
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2008 5:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
You can't hack these things.

Can't. Its a waste of time even discussing your fears about them.

RE: I don't trust these things
By JonnyDough on 6/9/2008 11:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
It's not the hacking that makes me afraid of these drones. It's the fact that someone else may get them. They can build their own, we're not the only country in the world with advanced technology anymore. Furthermore, I fear my own government. I have been online, I really don't trust the way others think sometimes. We're so willing to go to war, or to kill people in other countries from our living rooms, all it takes is that complacency to turn itself inward on it's own people with a little doubt. I think the divorce rate here in America could be a symbol of how we fail to trust each other. Don't be mad at me for not trusting anyone, it's the fault of this social platform I was raised on.

RE: I don't trust these things
By retrospooty on 6/7/2008 8:17:04 PM , Rating: 3
"What’s to prevent anyone from hacking into these things and rendering them useless, or worse yet, using them to attack the attacker?"

Norton "Military Edition"

RE: I don't trust these things
By Duwelon on 6/9/2008 11:20:24 PM , Rating: 2

RE: I don't trust these things
By Icelight on 6/11/2008 9:20:16 AM , Rating: 2
They'd be dropping from the sky by the dozen were that the case, or at least taking three times as long to finish take-off preparations.

RE: I don't trust these things
By Mousekill on 7/1/2008 12:27:26 PM , Rating: 1
I guess it is a possibility, but these are pretty sophisticated gizmos. It seems like there are much easier and cheaper ways to deliver much more bad stuff, like a U-Haul or a used car.

Not a priority
By James Wood Carter on 6/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: Not a priority
By mdogs444 on 6/6/2008 10:35:30 PM , Rating: 3
The shuffling of funds from one need to another is not a way to address the issue. The problem is medicare & military are both needed - but pork barrel projects, huge amounts of foreign aid, a corrupt welfare & social program procedure, and allowing non-citizens to benefit from tax dollars should be addressed first.

The US has risen to power not only by its economic GDP, but also by its military strength. Military spending, when compared with social programs, is hardly is comprable.

RE: Not a priority
By Master Kenobi on 6/6/2008 11:34:50 PM , Rating: 5
If we decide were "good enough" and cut way down on military spending, it will never go back up until such time that we are getting our asses handed to us against a foreign nation that decided to spend money on their military. By then its too late. So, I'm all for continued pumping of money into excellent projects like this. We need to keep pushing the edge or risk getting caught with our pants down later on.

RE: Not a priority
By Ringold on 6/7/2008 2:18:42 AM , Rating: 4
Exactly. It apparently scared Eisenhower, but he realized we no longer live in an era where a war could break out and a nation had six months, or even years, to raise an army from scratch. We were late to the action in WW1 partly because we had to spool up from almost no standing army to over 4 million men. WW2 we got lucky; Roosevelt might've trashed the constitution and lied to the people, but he prepared us will in advance such that Pearl Harbor was a mere formality, a pre-text for joining the fray.

I would imagine a future war between super powers could be over before we could even fully mobilize a draft and get the first men through basic, much less raise an entire army, navy, and air force. Plus, ships, aircraft and their weapons can take decades, not months, to design.

For example, the CVN-21, the first of our next-generation aircraft carriers, had construction begin last spring in 2007. It won't be done until 2015, assuming all goes well. That is eight years; has any modern war lasted that long?

On top of it all, US military spending as a percentage of GDP is only 3.7%, rebounding off a post-WW2 low of 3.0% set in 1999/2000. In 2005, government spending was about 35% of GDP. That indicates that as much as some people complain, it is but a relatively small piece of a much more vast government pie.

That said, Democrats are correct that in absolute terms spending is at a post WW2 high, but that's a useless measurement. Master Kenobi, in the movie you said it correctly; Only Sith Lords speak in absolutes!

RE: Not a priority
By Googer on 6/7/08, Rating: 0
RE: Not a priority
By FITCamaro on 6/8/2008 9:16:37 AM , Rating: 2
You realize that these are not just Styrofoam airplanes made in China right? You have to pay the engineers who design them, build them, and test them. Then theres the support staff who repair and maintain them.

The company I work for works on the Shadow program. It's not cheap.

RE: Not a priority
By Aloonatic on 6/9/08, Rating: 0
RE: Not a priority
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2008 2:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
Spending... only the US government would spend $35,000 on a Styrofoam airplane. Reminds me of the time I got rich selling Uncle Sam $40,000 screwdrivers.....

I guess you missed the part that these flew 45 thousand hours of missions that WOULD have been flown by a human pilot and conventional plane.

So lets see here, 35 thousand weighed against uhhhh how much does it costs to fly 45 thousand hours in a fighter plane with pilot ? Yeah approximately A LOT more.

RE: Not a priority
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2008 2:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
Edit : That was 45+ thousand flight hours LAST MONTH.

RE: Not a priority
By onwisconsin on 6/7/2008 8:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
Less soldiers on ground = Less likeliness of fatality.

I'm all for these UAVs. I don't mind spending on defense (read: DEFENSE, not INVADING other countries with no-bid contracts). On the other hand, it is HOW and WHERE and WHY they are being used that I disagree with. We've PO'd enough people 2003 on that we're just digging a deeper hole.

RE: Not a priority
By FITCamaro on 6/8/08, Rating: 0
RE: Not a priority
By bigdawg1988 on 6/8/08, Rating: 0
RE: Not a priority
By Reclaimer77 on 6/9/2008 7:20:48 PM , Rating: 2
What do you do when those people who can't afford healthcare decide to bash your skull in to get money to pay for their operations?

Actually before government mandated HMO's and health insurance, there was a time EVERYONE could walk into their doctors office and pay cash for a visit. The costs of healthcare have been driven UP by the effort to " help everyone ". You might want to look the facts up.

What happens to people who happen to lose their jobs because of some idiot CEO?

Uhh you get a new job ? This is America. If you can't make it your just not trying.

The military-industrial-political complex is alive and well and wasting our money on F-22s when they should have been making more UAVs.

The F-22 is an interceptor fighter/bomber. UAV's are SLOW moving recon and light attack drones. UAV's simply cannot replace the F-22, and calling them a waste of money is ignorant.

You're either really young, or you just woke up from a 20 year nap.

Look in the mirror please.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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