Inside a drone strike

predator droneWe all know about the predator strikes going on in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other US battlefields around the world these days. What many of us don’t know, however, is that these are all controlled half a world away form Edvards airbase in Arizona, USA. We have all seen videos of predator strikes (and their results), but not of how its controlled. Here’s a video to show you exactly that. Although the video here is from a predator trainer simulator, it pretty much shows what goes on half a world away in the control room while the strike is being carried out.

The video is  both fascinating…and disturbing at the same time.

For one, it’s amazing the control and detailed view available to the “pilot” and “sensor.” Its amazing how two people control many drones from an airconditioned trailer half a world away. The ability for the operators to distinguish targets, coordinate with controllers in theater and speak with spotters on the ground is just surreal and speaks of the hardwork engineers have put in the development of the system.

On the other hand, the video is also disturbing in the almost-clinical way in which the pilot and sensor deliver their lethal blow. Calm, collected — and totally detached from any impact of what they’ve done. It’s one thing to launch doomsday out of a Minuteman missile tube — talk about detachment! …it’s another to launch a missile at a pickup truck you’ve never seen with your own eyes and have no real sense of the impact of that death on your daily life. A pilot returning to an air base after removing one more “terrorist vehicle” from the road has more of a sense of his strike’s impact on his mind than the pilot in the trailer at Arizona.

This is clearly the way aerial warfare is going — I get it. But it’s going to raise many ethical dilemmas along the way.

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