The 23 July crash of a US Army RC-7 electro-optical recon plane over Colombia seems to have been due to bad weather and uncharted mountains rather than rebel activity. The limited sensors on the plane (the oldest RC-7, it had never been given more modern gear) required it to fly well below 20,000 feet, and it was flying in an area (which has never been mapped) in which mountains frequently reach that high. The wreckage was found at 7,000 feet. The aircraft apparently flew into a mountain in dense clouds. Five Americans and two Colombians were killed. The Army has a fleet of eight RC-7s, of which three are in Korea, four were based in Texas (including the one that crashed), and the last is yet to be delivered. The planes have a variety of sensors and a series of upgrades have left no two exactly alike. (Two are configured for communications intelligence, four for electronic and optical observation, the one that was lost carried only optical sensors, and the 8th will have an improved communications eavesdropping system.) The Army wants ten more RC-7s (based on the DeHavilland DHC-7) to provide coverage where overworked E-8 JSTARS, RC-135 Rivet Joint, and EP-3E Orion planes are not available.--Stephen V Cole
October 27; At a press conference staged by a faction of the ELN, the guerillas kidnapped a Reuters photographer who had, in an earlier photo session, caused the faces of some ELN leaders to appear in the press. The photographer (a Colombian citizen) will be held indefinitely, but not killed, according to the ELN.