commentary on Politics and a little bit of everything else

The old U-2 Spy plane just Keeps on…. Keeping on…….

[ The U-2 spy plane, the high-flying aircraft that was often at the heart of cold war suspense, is enjoying an encore. Lt. Col. Rob Wehner brought one in for a landing at Beale Air Force Base in California. ]

It’s old and slow….having outlasted it’s faster bother the SR-71 which the Air Force has retired……its long wings…..black shape and unsteady take-off and landings are still happening……

It flys so high its pilots have to wear NASA like space suits……The aircraft were looked on as relics by the Air Force…whcih likes to have new toys to strap its pilots into….but somehow…with Congress’s push and shove….the U-2’s are  still up there..taking pictures, Signit (Signals Intell -radio traffic), and Humit (Pictures of Humans ) intel for the troops in spite of the ever more reliance on its unmanned cousin the Global Hawk which can leave from an airfield in the US fly to a country…loiter around for 10 hours vacuuming up Signit , pictures and radar pictures …bouncing that info down to ground commanders and up to satellites and back to the US…..

The Global Hawks and Predators are the  heavy lifters these days….but the good ole’ U-2 …..with a person on board still is needed……..

And flying these birds can be dangerous…….

The U-2 spy plane, the high-flying aircraft that was often at the heart of cold war suspense, is enjoying an encore.

Four years ago, the Pentagon was ready to start retiring the plane, which took its first test flight in 1955. But Congress blocked that, saying the plane was still useful.

And so it is. Because of updates in the use of its powerful sensors, it has become the most sought-after spy craft in a very different war in Afghanistan.

As it shifts from hunting for nuclear missiles to detecting roadside bombs, it is outshining even the unmanned drones in gathering a rich array of intelligence used to fight the Taliban.

All this is a remarkable change from the U-2’s early days as a player in United States-Soviet espionage. Built to find Soviet missiles, it became famous when Francis Gary Powers was shot down in one while streaking across the Soviet Union in 1960, and again when another U-2 took the photographs that set off the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Newer versions of the plane have gathered intelligence in every war since then and still monitor countries like North Korea.

Now the U-2 and its pilots, once isolated in their spacesuits at 70,000 feet, are in direct radio contact with the troops in Afghanistan. And instead of following a rote path, they are now shifted frequently in midflight to scout roads for convoys and aid soldiers in firefights.

In some ways, the U-2, which flew its first mission in 1956, is like an updated version of an Etch A Sketch in an era of high-tech computer games.

“It’s like after all the years it’s flown, the U-2 is in its prime again,” said Lt. Col. Jason M. Brown, who commands an intelligence squadron that plans the missions and analyzes much of the data. “It can do things that nothing else can do.”

One of those things, improbably enough, is that even from 13 miles up its sensors can detect small disturbances in the dirt, providing a new way to find makeshift mines that kill many soldiers.

In the weeks leading up to the recent offensive in Marja, military officials said, several of the 32 remaining U-2s found nearly 150 possible mines in roads and helicopter landing areas, enabling the Marines to blow them up before approaching the town.



March 22, 2010 Posted by | Aircraft, Counterpoints, Government, Men, Military, Other Things, Space, Travel, Updates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan is solely focused on one issue….UAV attacks….They could care less about the Taliban….

In a piece in MYDD.com, by Charles Lemos, he highlights the problems the administration has in Pakistan…which the White House is pushing to step up its campaign to go after the Taliban…I just did a post on how Aftghanistan has essential told the United States that it can’t and won’t be able to take care of itself for the next 20 years….Here in Pakistan is a country that is saying we’re not in any hurry..what’s the problem?…and by the way stop flying your Predator’s in our country( and maybe the bad guys will the go away, huh?)…..we’re more worried about getting respect and keeping an eye on India….

This from Shayan Khan of the Pakistan Spectator is typical. Back in October he wrote:

Pakistan’s concerns over Kerry-Lugar bill are there for sure, but they are not that important. The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has backed a bill that would triple economic assistance for Pakistan, a key US ally in the fight against terrorism, to 7.5 billion dollars over five years. But it perhaps come as a surprise for the Kerry that Pakistanis don’t really think much of any aid or such things. They want US to take them as humans like themselves and to understand that the people dying from the drone attacks are 99% Pakistanis, and only perhaps 1% are anything to do with militancy. (The) war on terror has given Pakistan the gory gifts of suicide attacks and bomb blasts and the economic life in Pakistan has come to a grinding halt.

The Taliban are not going anyplace if the Predators stop flying….

and then there is this……

Instead of funding an educational system, Pakistan prefers to invest in tanks. Pakistan spends only 2.3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education – the lowest level of any country in South Asia – as compared to 3.6 percent on average for other nations in Asia and 3.4 percent in low-income countries overall. This puts Pakistan in the bottom quarter of countries world-wide. Military spending, meanwhile, accounts for 3.5 percent of GDP, an amount that places Pakistan in the top quarter of countries world-wide. The result of inadequate funding for education is that only about half of Pakistani adults can read and write, compared to 92 percent in Sri Lanka and 60 percent in India.

This is not going to be easy folks…….

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Government, Military, Politics | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Predator (UAV) war in Pakistan…..and Aftghanistan, heats up…..

A secret war policy to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) has been bumped up in recent months…..I did a post on the aircraft in mid-Novemeber…..The New York Times has done a piece on the policy and the ramifications of the policy to the Pakistani Military, Americans….and the  Pakistani public….

Aftgahnisatn is a declared war zone..the United States operates UAV’s there at it’s own free will…..

America’s Central Intelligence Agency, once free of the restraints against hunting down bad guys, and killing them, after 9/11, has expanded that policy (under National Command Authority) , and found success without losing any american lives….by adopting the Israeli policy of going after ‘soft targets’ that are on a authorized list…the CIA, Army and Air Force have eliminated a good many bad guys…the program on the face of it …is a success…

The Pakistani military has been secretly cooperating with the United States for years…. Predator drones have been stationed in the country, with a small contingent of troops to run the aircraft….that fact was not well know to the civilians of the country, until a little while ago….the United States has been giviing The Pakistani’s intel, and access to it’s spy satellites data for a while….all of this information has been out there in the public domain……

While the UAV attacks have been sucessful..they cause problems for the Pakistani military who have to deal with their countrymen….

The Pakistani civilians are not all happy with the U.S. UAV’s who attack bad guys from the sky and sometimes make collateral hits, and damage…..

The fact is…the program is expanding, according to White House, and Pentagon reports…..and as with the Israeli campaigns….the weapons system is an unqualified success, that causes civilian political problems…

For now the policy and program continues………

Note: The most widly used UAV for airstrikes is the Predator model’s, operated by the Army, Air Force and the CIA……

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Government, Military, Politics, September 11 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Army is getting screwed…..

First they took away the C-27J…the Army attempt to take the load off its heavy lift Chinook Helicopters…..and gave the program to the Air Force…who will, I’m sure deep-six it, for some fast movers (fighters)…..

Now There is a problem with the E-8, J oint Stars battle surveillance aircraft…The converted B-707 can paint an area, and let field commanders see what going on in greater detail than the ‘eyes in the sky ‘ satellites or unmanned Predators or Global Hawks…..

But now the Air Force has forgotten to put the money in for the Joint-Star’s aircraft to have engine upgrades, therefore cutting down on time the five or six aircraft fleet can operate….

I do not understand why the Army has to rely on the Air Force which has a romance with speed burners….(when was the last time they got’ into it’ with a hostale air force?…the Army fights every day, 24/7, in two theaters)

It is time for Congress to send the Army to the Marine school of  ‘taking care of your own’, and give them back the C-27J short-haul mission, and let them get their own intel aircraft like the G-550 housed EL/M-2075 that the Israeli’s, Indian and Chilians have or the British ASTOR’s…both aircraft are proven…off the shelf, originate in the United States, and should be used solely by the Army for its troops….

Next thing you know the Air Force will want to glam the Army’s Emars aircraft too!

It is about time that  they stop robbing the Army, to make the Air Force happy……

That stinks…….

And the soldiers and the commanders in the field get screwed…..

November 27, 2009 Posted by | Government, Men, Military, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UAV- Unmanned aerial vehicle…..

Here’s a piece on the newest vehicle’s in today’s air war arsenal……

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Military | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment