Sunday, August 18, 2013

These aren't the drones you're looking for

The RCAF has determined it doesn't require permission from civilian authorities to fly its drones through domestic airspace, according to a 2011 briefing note obtained by David Pugliese. The US, Europe, and Israel require civilian oversight but Canada does not.  

Having leased some Heron drones for use in Afghanistan from Israel, the world's largest drone manufacturer, the Cons want to purchase 18 UAVs for $1.5-billion plus.
Here's a short vid inside the Heron plant in Israel from two weeks ago .

So we already have the tech to build Skynet, we just haven't told it not to bother us with details yet.
An Israeli drone rep in the vid predicts that by the year 2035, drones will comprise 95% of the airborne fighting force, although the narrator explains :
"For all the claims of precision supporters of the use of drones make, a recent study found that strikes carried out by drones are 10 times more deadly to civilians than strikes by manned aircraft."
Well, what's a little collateral damage between military client states, eh?

And what about safety issues when you aren't trying to target anyone? Or as the US Congressional Research Bureau put it in 2010: "UAV accidents are “multiple times higher” than their piloted counterparts." 
The RCAF docs from 2011 do outline a concern with developing the tech not to bash unmanned into civilian things by accident :
"An autonomous ‘sense and avoid’ capability will be pursued to permit ever increasing access to Canadian Airspace"
but an RCAF spokesy advised Pugliese two days ago that :
while aerospace firms are working on a sense and avoid system for UAVs, that is not considered an essential requirement for the Canadian military’s planned purchase of such aircraft.
Three months ago, Israel ditched one of its Heron drones into the Mediterranian due to an engine problem and grounded all the rest pending investigation.

Notable that we don't have enough money to keep the Kitsilano marine rescue station open or fund the ELA or build a school in Attawapiskat or look into missing aboriginal women or house the homeless or make foreign aid independent of corporate interests or begin shifting our petrostate economy into something that permits the continuation of life on earth, but somehow there's always $1.5 billion lying around for the military to buy stuff like unmanned surveillance with the option to make things go boom.
Or, as I like to consider sometimes, if we were starting our society over from scratch, is this how we'd choose to organize it?


thwap said...

The answer to your last question is an emphatic "No."

When we consider that CSIS and the RCMP have, together, been torturing innocent men, depriving other innocent men of their freedom via "security certificates," created the "Toronto 18" out of whole cloth, arrested two meth-heads in a ludicrous Canada Day bomb plot, and arrested 2 guys for allegedly talking about bombing a train, in the 12 years since 9-11, ... it's obvious that there is no threat and there is no need to piss $1.5 billion on these monstrosities.

Anonymous said...

Interesting video. Strange that the popular UAVs use such a crude reciprocating engine technology which is prone to failure. I wouldn't these babies circling over my city, like WWII V-1 rockets, waiting to fall out of the sky.

A thought: design a low cost, green powered drone capable of monitoring the corporate security state drones.

Purple library guy said...

95%? Man, if I were a country with worries about being attacked I'd be investing heavily in jamming and hacking right now. I really can't imagine relying on a warplane that won't work if I don't have uninterrupted radio control.
Tech fetish is what the modern military is all about. As they said way back in Robocop, "Who cares if it works?"

Alison said...

PLG : Oh, right on!
Jones in Robocop: "I had a guaranteed military sale with ED209! Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cares if it worked or not!"

Sadly ironic the real world Detroit is getting a robocop monument.

Today I read that we're investing in a "stealth snowmobile" for the Arctic - I'm guessing it's going to be white - even though the troops don't have enough parkas and they're trundling around in ATVs from the 80s that were pulled from service in 2009.
When Steve said 'Nothing is too good for the troops', it seems he meant it literally.

Anon : Interesting idea. Don't have your tech knowledge re UAVs but have read that 90% of air traffic over Israel is drones. That would seem risky.

Thwap : *group sigh*, repeat, ...
Useful new laws to harass journos that embarrass the gov though, huh?
Greenwald's mate held 9 hours in UK on a Section 7 and US got a "heads up". Time for fellow journos to pick a side here even if their bosses won't.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, while Israel was the first to develop drones (the project was originally funded by the US, who stopped because they couldn't see the utility in it) they used them for surveillance and target spotting: It was conceived as an adjunct to a fighter bomber, which would have a screen on which the target picture was projected in the cockpit: enabling faster approach and more exact strikes. They were very proud of their telescopic camera which you saw in the ball under the nose of the drone. It was for real time intelligence on troop movements, and so on.

A drone is much cheaper, smaller, and more independent than a plane, and you don't have to worry about losing a pilot. For example, with the Hamas official, they were able to follow the car until it was in an area without civilians before the vehicle was destroyed.

It was the Americans who went nuts and began using them (the drone shown before the clip starts is an American missile firing drone) for assassinations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anon.
Were you ever a fan of the old Star Trek tv series? There was an episode in which some benighted planet cleaned up war and the real estate destruction it causes by holding a lottery in which random citizens of each side were called up for euthanasia instead. This is our bloodier messier version.

~ Alison

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