Intelligence: May 19, 2002


Israel's one squadron of UAV recon drones has been busy in the recent West Bank fighting. As in every military operation, the primary demand is more intel on what the enemy is doing. The drones can circle over the area for hours and their cameras can zoom in to check on any suspicious activity. The Israelis are shopping around one videotape in which two Katyusha rockets are launched from a stand of trees in the West Bank. Moments later, a motor cyclist roared out of the trees and went to his house, which was destroyed moments later by an Israeli air-launched missile. While the Israelis avoid giving details, the UAVs have been used in hundreds of such incidents over the last two months. UAVs are used to track gunmen, suicide bombers, and senior Palestinian officials. Images from the UAVs are used to track weapons as they are moved from house to house and officials as they meet with radicals and militants. The Israelis are using UAVs to designate targets with laser beams or to get the GPS coordinates of targets so they can be destroyed. Currently, the UAVs send targeting info to a ground station, which passes it on to attack helicopters. The Israelis want, however, to move to a system where the UAV gives its targeting info directly to the attack aircraft. --Stephen V Cole


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