Intelligence: November 17, 2001


Three of the four Global Hawk strategic recon drones and several E8 JSTARS radar planes have been sent to the theater to provide more long-endurance observation. This will be the first time Global Hawk has been used in combat. These aircraft are intended to beef up the control system and cut down the "sensor to attack" time lag. Original plans were to base these aircraft in Germany, but they have been sent to "forward bases" to reduce the time lag of reaching Afghanistan, giving them more time in the combat zone. The US is now using the same sensor processing systems on Global Hawk it uses on U-2, giving them better capabilities. Global Hawks have electro-optical and infrared cameras, synthetic aperture radar, and electronic intelligence gathering systems. Global Hawk and Joint STARS are providing commanders with round-the-clock coverage of key areas of the battlefield. Previously, the US had to send sensor aircraft ahead of each attack and hope they could find targets last observed hours earlier. The Pentagon wants to have several continuous days of vehicle traffic patterns on tape so that it can use the data to detect active cave complexes. --Stephen V Cole


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