More Arrests at Creech Air Force Base Trying to Stop Drone Warfare

From: The Nuclear Resister

12376836_10153506608416179_4409115700189903633_nfrom Nevada Desert Experience

Indian Springs, NV – On Friday, April 1, morning traffic at Creech Air Force Base was diverted by dozens of peace and justice activists attempting to shut down the armed drone attack program through nonviolent civil resistance. At 7:45 a.m., eleven peaceful resisters were arrested at the two main gates of Creech. At 10:00 a.m. another six were arrested at the main East Gate while blocking the entrance with “crime scene” tape, referring to the criminal activity of weaponized drone terrorism conducted at Creech, killing thousands of non-combatants and civilians over the past decade.

These arrests, conducted by Las Vegas Metropolitan police, were the last waves of repression this week from Clark County, which has failed to investigate or stop the alleged extra-judicial assassinations conducted at Creech. Fourteen of the justice and peace activists arrested on April 1 received citations for jaywalking, and three received citations for trespassing on federal property.

12417534_10153506610501179_6943721832032680821_nThe 17 activists arrested on April 1 were: Toby Blome, MaryKate Glenn, Shirley Osgood, Chris Nelson, Mahaia Oliveira, Tyler Schaefer, Dennis Duvall, Susan Witka, Fred Bialy, Ron Foust, Arla Ertz, Brian Terrell, Leslie Angeline, Cynthia Papermaster, John Ford, Rene Espleland and Flora Rogers. Some of the activists are being held in jail over the weekend.

Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) is an active non-profit organization in support of this week’s anti-killer-drone protests at Camp Justice. Camp Justice is organized by Veterans For Peace, Code Pink, NDE, and Voices for Creative Nonviolence. For more information, see or call 702-646-4814.12931162_1005335222889125_7829984626356722711_n

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Terminator Planet: the first History of Drone Warfare

Terminator Planet: the first History of Drone Warfare
By Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt

From the Blurb on Amazon:

The first history of drone warfare, written as it happened. From the opening missile salvo in the skies over Afghanistan in 2001 to a secret strike in the Philippines early this year, or a future in which drones dogfight off the coast of Africa, Terminator Planet takes you to the front lines of combat, Washington war rooms, and beyond.

Drawing on several years of research — including official documents, open-source intelligence, and interviews with military officers — two of the foremost analysts specializing in drone war offer a sobering, factual account of robot warfare combined with critical analyses found nowhere else.

Packed with rarely seen Pentagon photos, Terminator Planet provides a rich history of the last decade of drone warfare, a clear-eyed look at its present, and a far-reaching guide to its future. You used to have to watch science fiction movies to imagine where that future was headed, now you can read Terminator Planet — and know.

NY: Unmanned drones, controlled by Air National Guard from Hancock Airfield, will fly over the Adirondacks

From: The Post-Standard, at, by Dave Tobin, Feb 6, 2011

If you feel like you’re being watched while floating in a canoe or driving along some lonely road in the Adirondacks this summer, you might be right.

In June, the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse plans to begin regular unmanned surveillance flights from Fort Drum over the Adirondacks.

The training mission of the drones, called Reapers, will mark the first ongoing flights east of the Mississippi with aircraft that don’t have people in them.

The 174th’s New York flights will train pilots (who remotely fly the planes) and sensor operators (who monitor video shot from the plane). The Reapers, or MQ-9s, will be controlled from a station at Hancock Airfield, the same place from which the 174th is flying Reapers over Afghanistan.

The New York flights will not be armed and should be undetectable by those on the ground.

The new training mission shows the Syracuse air guard unit’s prominence in the growing role of unmanned military aircraft. It also hints at the looming issues of civil liberties and air safety that come with government surveillance by unmanned aircraft over American soil.

MQ-9 Reaper Video Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection The MQ-9, or Reaper drone, is an unmanned aerial vehicle that the 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard plans to begin flying from Syracuse in training missions over a portion of the Adirondacks this summer. For the past year the airwing has been flying Reapers from Syracuse over Afghanistan. U.S. Customs and Border Protection already flies the MQ-9 along U.S. land borders. The drone can stay in the air up to 20 hours. It has highly sensitive optical, infrared and synthetic aperture radar sensors that can see in great detail from miles away. Video courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Watch video

U.S. Customs and Border Protection flew an unarmed MQ-9 over northern New York for 30 days of testing during the summer of 2009. That craft launched from Fort Drum and was operated from North Dakota and Arizona.

The agency’s seven MQ-9s regularly fly along the southern U.S. border and the northern U.S. border west of Minnesota. With its highly sensitive cameras and radar, the drone can “see” people crossing a border 20 miles away, said John Priddy, the agency’s director of air operations in Grand Forks, N.D.

The border patrol hopes to regularly fly MQ-9s over northern New York by 2016. When that happens, the agency plans to operate them from North Dakota, Priddy said.

The FAA, which has created an Unmanned Aircraft Program Office, has been cautious about allowing unmanned aircraft flights in unrestricted airspace. There is no reliable technology to help unmanned aircrafts “sense and avoid” other aircraft.

The MQ-9’s accident rate is seven times the general aviation rate, and 353 times the commercial aviation rate, based on a few thousand hours of drone flights by the border patrol.

At a Jan. 13 presentation to the Adirondack Park Agency, Col. Charles “Spider” Dorsey, the 174th Fighter Wing’s vice commander, touted the safety of Air Force MQ-9s. His data, based on about 70,000 flight hours, comes from the military’s experience flying mostly in war zones where there is almost no commercial or civilian traffic.
U.S. Air Force Reapers like this one at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., are capable of carrying both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles.

The Air Force Reaper’s accident rate is similar to the F-16 fighter jet for the same number of hours flown, Dorsey said. The Air Force and Air National Guard have had 10 major accidents with the Reaper (causing death, permanent disability or the plane’s destruction). Seven were caused by human error, three by aircraft malfunction, he said. Most came during landings.

Once the “sense and avoid” issue is resolved, domestic use of drones is expected to rise rapidly, according to the FAA.

As of Dec. 1, the FAA had issued 273 authorizations to fly at least 72 different types of unmanned aircraft. Some are the size of birds and launched by hand. The Miami Dade police department recently bought a RQ-16 T-hawk drone, which takes off vertically, looks like a small robot and can fly as high as 10,000 feet for more than 40 minutes.

The 174th Fighter Wing has been flying the heavily armed Reaper in Afghanistan since December 2009. The 174th’s Hancock base is one of six sites in the nation from which Reapers in Afghanistan are flown.

For the northern New York training missions, the 174th Fighter Wing has requested permission initially for Reapers to fly above 18,000 feet, over general aviation planes. When “sense and avoid” gear develops, the 174th plans to fly at lower altitude.

Practice following cars

The Reapers’ high altitude and relative quiet make them hard to detect, which has contributed to their heavy use for surveillance in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, where the CIA flies them.

An unarmed Reaper can fly up to 20 hours, cruise at roughly 180 mph as high as 40,000 feet, loitering over targets.

For training maneuvers over New York, the Reapers will randomly follow vehicles or circle over buildings, giving pilots and operators experience watching something on the ground, Dorsey said.

A possible exercise might be to sight “the next car driving north across the Black River out of Castorland, and track that vehicle as it makes turns, goes under trees and behind barns,” Dorsey said.

Would someone know they were being watched? asked Leilani Crafts Ulrich, an APA commissioner.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection imageAn MQ-9 drone’s imaging equipment snapped this electro-optical image of a scene 12 miles away. The imaging equipment includes an infrared device.

“No,” Dorsey said. “They’d have no way of knowing they were targeted.”

During training, Reapers will not monitor specific people or places, Dorsey said. Department of Defense regulations prohibit targeted surveillance of U.S. citizens in training missions.

However, DOD does allow exceptions with approval from the secretary of defense. In such cases, surveillance data is turned over to agencies such as border patrol, FBI, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Coast Guard, the regulation states.

Use by police agencies

At Fort Drum, a new $2.7 million Reaper hangar and control station is planned to be built at Wheeler Sack Army Airfield by 2012, said Lt. Col. Fred Tomaselli, military airspace manager for the N.Y. Air National Guard.

For live missile training, the 174th is seeking permission to fly Reapers within a small restricted flight zone over Fort Drum and eventually over part of Lake Ontario.

Similar training observations over the Adirondacks were made by pilots of F-16s, which the 174th flew for more than 20 years, Dorsey said. The 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard still flies F-16s over the Adirondacks.

By 2014, the 174th plans to fly Reapers inside the same flight zones that F-16 fighter jets flew, a broad expanse over the Adirondacks and Lake Ontario, as well as between Syracuse and Fort Drum.

The guard doesn’t have FAA approval to fly drones between Syracuse and Fort Drum. When Reapers need to be moved, they are taken apart and trucked.

The 174th Fighter Wing has a school to teach Reaper maintenance in Syracuse. It is seeking approval for a flight school to teach pilots and operators. Students could include military personnel from Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada and Turkey, according to Air Force documents.

Months ago, the 174th wing commander, Col. Kevin Bradley said his unit plans to have three cockpits (or control stations) at Hancock, each responsible for up to four Reapers overseas. Maj. Jeff Brown, spokesman for the Fighter Wing, would not say whether the 174th had met its goals.

Police agencies in Texas, Maryland, Florida and Colorado are already flying some version of unmanned air vehicles, the Washington Post recently reported. At this point the FAA grants authorization to police agencies on a case-by-case basis.

In New York state, the 174th could be called upon by state or civil authorities to fly Reapers during emergencies, Dorsey said.

“Let’s say Nine Mile Point (nuclear reactor) suffered a major radiation leak, he said. “You wouldn’t want a manned aircraft up there monitoring it.”

–Contact Dave Tobin at or 470-3277.

Meanwhile in India (Bharat)…

India has finally produced indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), with the Indian Air Force (IAF) getting its first lot recently.

The UAVs, however, have not been developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which the Indian government provides billions of rupees to develop defence equipment. A technology firm in Ludhiana, Bhogal Hobby Tech, a sister concern of Bhogal Cycles Limited, has come up with the design, to be provided at Rs 0.6 million a piece. The firm is in the business of producing aero models and accessories. Experts have tested the UAVs that weigh 28 kilogrammes, have an 80 cc engine and a wingspan of 5.5 metres (18 feet). “We supplied UAVs to forces in March and we have made the defence self-reliant,” says Manjeev Bhogal, managing partner of the firm and the brain behind the project.

The IAF had approached the firm to develop the UAVs, as the Israeli-made ones were too expensive and Israel was not providing spare parts for repairs, Bhogal said. He said the firm developed the vehicles on its own, “as the Indian Air Force made it clear that it will not give any monetary help for the research and development”. The firm already supplies trainer aero models and target aero models to IAF and the Indian Army. It was five years ago that Bhogal was approached by the IAF for aero models and seeing his expertise, was asked to concentrate on producing UAVs.


Who is targeted by drones?

44 separate drone strikes in 2009 alone, and dozens of additional ones so far thing year have killed almost no militant leaders of note. Yet far from being an example of CIA incompetence, officials say it is all part of the plan.

What plan? Well according to officials, the Bush Administration came up with a plan to “move beyond” the attempts to assassinate al-Qaeda leaders. Now, officials are attacking a broader set of targets. That, they say, is what President Obama is doing.

This answers the question of why almost no “named” leaders are ever killed, but raises another, perhaps more disturbing question. If the US intelligence on noteworthy men was so shoddy that so many of their attempted assassinations failed, how can they possibly possess the sort of intelligence to accurately hit these minor targets?

The answer is that they can’t, and don’t, and that is why out of those 44 drone attacks some 700 Pakistani civilians were slain. With the plan to kill al-Qaeda leaders in shambles, the US bet on a brute strength method, and it was the populace of North and South Waziristan that paid a heavy price.
(Antiwar Newswire)

The launch was a go

Just in case you were thinking things could not be more diabolical than the UAV’s (“drones”), think again after reading his AFP-despatch:

A US Air Force unmanned spacecraft has blasted off from Florida, amid a veil of secrecy about its military mission.

The robotic space plane, or X-37B, lifted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas V rocket at 7:52pm local time on Thursday (0952 AEST on Friday), according video released by the military.

“The launch is a go,” Air Force Major Angie Blair told AFP.

Resembling a miniature space shuttle, the plane is 8.9 meters long and has a wing-span of 4.5 meters.

The reusable space vehicle has been years in the making and the military has offered only vague explanations as to its purpose or role in the American military’s arsenal.

The vehicle is designed to “provide an ‘on-orbit laboratory’ test environment to prove new technology and components before those technologies are committed to operational satellite programs,” the Air Force said in a recent release.

Officials said the X-37B would eventually return for a landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but did not say how long the inaugural mission would last.

“In all honesty, we don’t know when it’s coming back,” Gary Payton, deputy undersecretary for Air Force space programs, told reporters in a conference call this week.

Payton said the plane could stay in space for up to nine months.

Flight controllers plan to monitor the vehicle’s guidance, navigation and control systems, but the Air Force has declined to discuss what the plane is carrying in its payload or what experiments are scheduled.

Pentagon officials have sidestepped questions about possible military missions for the spacecraft, as well as the precise budget for its development – estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

The results of the test flight will inform “development programs that will provide capabilities for our warfighters in the future,” Payton said.

The space plane – manufactured by Boeing – began as a project of NASA in 1999, and was eventually handed over to the US Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

The Air Force has plans for a second X-37B, scheduled to launch in 2011.

Further reading.