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Drone Usage in War-Time Tactics Essay

Since the introduction of drones in war, the NY Times claims that the “CIA have not committed one civilian fatality, while allowing the troop death rate to decrease dramatically.” During the constant bettering of machinery throughout the world, the use of technology has come to a halt when it comes to an unmanned aerial vehicle. Slowly proving to be more reliable than the average pilot, in the years progressing new found respect has been shown by doubting militaries. In a HALE UAV article written by Carlos Reyes he states that “drones can fly up to 60,000 feet, being able to steadily winds at 15 mph compared to 50 mph winds at 40,000 feet.”(Reyes) and are able to outdo a pilot by almost 10,000 feet, due to the -75 degree weather.

Portrayed by the US State Department as drones being useless, the use of drones has relentlessly grown to underestimated levels. A drone is classified as being “a UAV that is able to be controlled and sustain flight for numerous amounts of time, by a remote control”. The art of flying an attacking airplane remotely has made a strong peace appeal to not only the military but the citizens of the United States as well. By allowing the use of Drones in war time tactics, the innovation through this “technological leap” will help decrease in civilian deaths as well as increase in terrorist fatalities.

Historically, the first ever drone was used in the form of a balloon, back during the American Civil War and was aimed to land in the ammo depot and destroy any ammunition around. While the first ever (shooting) drone used in the military was back in 1960, where its main objective was to destroy. The Russians were proven to be the cause of this revolution. They had shot down a manned spy craft vehicle, without any firearms attached, patrolling the Russian border. Quickly upgrading in technology, showed to be vital in the way war was thought out and conducted.

One Subsonic Target created in 1951 and that is still used today, is the Firebee. The USAF (United States Air Force) required a UAV that was a jet powered aerial target that was able to be used from ground – air as well as air – air combat. The primary objective of the Firebee was to “simulate tactical threats by enemy aircraft and missiles for defense readiness training, air-to-air combat training and the development and evaluation of weapon systems”. This is explaining that these UAV’s were used as test dummies for practice, but also helped better technology of other weapons.

Since the beginning of UAV’s, there have been multiple advances not only in the way they are operated but as well in what they are capable of doing. With a variety of drones used now days, they have different classifications. There are ones from Reconnaissance drones (used for battlefield intelligence) to Combatant Drones (that provide attack capabilities in high risk situations). The use of all these various aircraft systems is to work together, to provide air support to the troops on the ground while eliminating the chance of a pilot dying. Using an article from the Chicago Sun-Times states that “Anwar al-Awlaki was followed by two United States predator drones, who watched him get into his vehicle and soon launched three hellfire missiles that obliterated him, explaining that no American was present during the attack.” (March)These drones are capable of eliminating any target as well as spying on anything for long periods of time. With the use of drones in war it can ultimately: “reduce any battle fatigue felt by a pilot, reduce the cost of projecting power, and are able to apply more precise force” (Henning)

Opposing the use of drones in war and using manned aircrafts, increases the actuality of killing an opposing target (any civilian) rather than hitting the intended target. Used as the main defense to their view, manned aircraft supporters claim that drones are taking away the number of job in the United States. This proves that the average person is showing to be clueless in the field of technology. While drones do take away a numerous amount of jobs, they also increase the job availability by almost triple what they took out. As stated later in my paper, over 180 people are used to evaluate the departure and return of just one aircraft (drone). These people are paid to oversee, protect, and fix any problems with the flying vehicle. This ultimately creates jobs for people in any fields of work to not only contribute to the use of them, while not only getting paid, but by helping out the United States military in the process.

In the debate between the uses of drones, there is one major aspect that challenges drones in war-time tactics. These questions ask, are drones ethical? Drones prove to be ethical in many ways, but one that proves to be of the up most importance is the defense of our nation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Stated in the CQ Press “the Obama administration has already carried out at least 101 drone strikes, doubling the amount during Bush’s presidency.”(CQ Press) Many drone supporters argue that “these strikes are precise, limit collateral damage, as well as save the lives of United States soldiers.”(CQ Press) and a main idea that backs up the ethical use of drones, goes back to the weakening of Al Qaeda and his troops. Since the year 2004, 95 percent of all the killings made by a drone have been of either terrorists or militia. This proves that not only do drones precisely attack the person(s) targeted, but also save the lives of innocent people as well as the lives of United States soldiers.

Another ethical issue that should be discussed asks, is the use of drones a technological tipping point in war? Thought to enhance decision makers to “resort to a policy far sooner than previously” multiple active and retired Air Force veterans state that the “aircraft brings in more decision-makers, better targeting data and more accurate delivery systems than fighter jets.”(Pincus). For every Predator (a type of drone) flown, there are 180 people there to oversee, protect, and enhance the plane at all times. Also, before any attack is made a “bug splat” report is read (the impact the missile would have) which helps protect innocent civilians who are in the line of fire. Nothing of this sort can be done with manned vehicles. Throughout this whole time, the person that will ultimately push the button to fire the missile will go through the same pre-mission routine that any Air Force Pilot would. This shows that even if technology is taking over war, the decisions and consequences will still be the same as the one who makes the decisions in a manned vehicle.

The main Reconnaissance aerial drone used now is the Global Hawk. This Unmanned Aerial vehicle is used mainly by the United Stated Air Force and as well as the Navy. This drone has the same general concept as the Firebee but is much more technologically advanced. It is able to provide a Synthetic Aperture Rader (SAR) as well as an Electro Infrared (EIR). This SAR uses an antenna signal and its target area to provide a long-term signal. Its main use is on an aircraft of any sort, where it is mounted on, and can flash pulses of radio waves to show the direct location of the object. The EIR is an image that include long times of loitering over any target area and can survey as much as 40,000 sq. /miles a day. This aerial vehicle is the one that patrols the area and looks for enemy militia prior to the appearance of the Predator Drone.

The attack drone used in today’s wars is called the Predator Drone. This is as well an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, but one that destroys. Even though the Predator Drone carries cameras and sensors on it for when it is needed to patrol a certain site; it also can carry and fire two “hellfire” missiles. A hellfire missile is “one that can be launched from multiple air, sea, or ground platforms. It is the main missile used by the United States Air Force. Since the early 2000’s, the Predator Drone is the dominant UAV used for any offensive operation conducted through the United States. Being one of the most reliable drones, it has seen combat in: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

With the use of Drones bettering our war-time decisions, they also affect the way the United States conducts itself. There are numerous amounts of ways that drones help our society other than in war. From the help of drones fertilizing bigger areas of land in Agriculture, to the use of Weather Balloons to help out in environmental control in Weather Research. As well as finding resources under the sea in Marine Sources, to helping the Coast Guard control the borders in Coast Watch. Even though some of these drones are used to oversee governmental activities, drones will still be used in the Borders to help control crime and help decrease in drug distribution in the United States.

By allowing the use of drones in war-time tactics, it allows the death toll for terrorists or other questionable sources to increase, whereas American soldier distribution can be favored in another area of the military. Not only does this “technology leap” show the major accomplishments that we have had as a country towards drones, but encourages Americans that even better things are to come in the future. Though the drones we use now are a compelling reason to agree with the use of drones in war, the creation of the “Dragon Eye” and “Shadow 2000” will help alter your undecided mind. These future inventions are supposed to be able to “detect nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, see into triple canopy jungles and provide low- cost and reliable communications and data relay across the battlefield. With the major leaps and bounds already achieved by the advancement of technology, shows that only good things are to come in the near future.


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