Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The saga and the threat of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

The frequent strike of Drones in the Af- Pak tribal belt of South Asia is now-a-days not rare news at all. Drones are striking in this high density terrorist area on every now and then; and become a major threat to terrorist. As the earlier strikes were not fully depend upon the correct intelligence inputs, a lot of civilians are also died. But now a day the correct intelligence input reduced the damage to civilians and become a deadly weapon against terrorists.

The main advantage associated with these Drown strike is that it is(can be) comparatively cheap and will not result in any manual loss for the attacking forces. These vehicles are fully controlled and deployed by people sitting in the remote areas using their satellites and computers. Recently Pentagon decided to train more UAV pilots than that of the fighter pilots!!!

Many countries around the world are going ahead to build their own UAV's. In 2005 terrorist organization Hizbolla send a UAV to Israel towns which carry a camera. Even if it didn’t carry any weapons, the success of it was enough to create panic in the intelligence circles. The low flying, UAV which have a cool battery powered engine can escape from missiles, which are generally tracking the heat waves.

The irony is that the UAV which big farmers use for spraying pesticides in their lands can be used for carrying bombs and other weapons to big distances. Think about the situation when these UAV's are falling to the hands of terrorists. Destroying UAV's are also a costly business; its said that Patriot missiles can effectively destroy UAV's but the cost is $3mn/missile. Terrorists can build a dozen of UAV's on that cost.

Many countries are very rapidly advancing in this sector. If things are going in this way the future fighter planes will be unmanned only. UAV pilots will control the vehicle from the safe locations, using the advance satellite data and intelligence inputs. Moreover the cost will be low and no human losses to the attackers.

In this situation we have to develop our strategy for countering this new phenomenon. We have to accelerate the research on this field, and have to allocate more funds. Not only in building UAV's but at the same time destroying the UAV's which are targeting our nation. It’s possible that we may find a wave of UAV attacks in Kashmir and other border states in another 5-6 years, so have to focus on the low cost missiles to destroy
the UAV's too.

The defence ministry should not allow these critical projects to go in the way of Gorshgov, Scorpene and many other deals; where the cost and time escalation put a question in the projects success itself. As Hizbollah already succeed in achieving UAV, we can calculate how much time it will take for LeT and other terrorist organizations which are particularly focusing India to get these things.


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