In the summer of 2003, an Air Force pilot named Greg Harbin was doing desk duty at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.
Day in and day out, Harbin sat in front of five computer screens, scanning photographs and video sent by unmanned planes flying 1,200 miles away, over Iraq and Afghanistan.
His job was to take that information, along with reports from ground troops, and identify fresh targets -- Taliban fighters or Iraqi insurgents.
But one thing puzzled him.
When regular units called for an attack by a Predator drone, the request went to Harbin, and then, if approved by a general, to "pilots" in Nevada, who fired the missile by remote control. The process often took as long as 45 minutes.
By contrast, special operations forces could call in attacks by unmanned Predator aircraft in less than a minute.
The difference, Harbin learned, was that a handful of special ops units were equipped with a device called the Rover, which gave them the same view as the pilots in Nevada. This greatly simplified communications.
Why don't all American fighting units have the Rover? he asked himself. Then he put the question to his boss, Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan, commander of the Air Force in the Middle East. Buchanan's reply: Why indeed.
That is excellent usage of drone technology. Thanks for sharing this article.
Yes, it's always nice to see how quickly a new tech can be exploited to kill people. Just like a forum is the best place to post spam.