Monday, January 5, 2009

21st Century High Tech Warfare

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Drones designed and manufactured in Pakistan have been making news since IDEAS 2008 event in November of last year. Also in the news has been the growing reliance on armed drones (aka predators) by Americans in Afghanistan and Pakistan's FATA region to target militants with increasing casualties. This post is an attempt to put these headlines in perspective for those interested in the 21st century high tech warfare.

Back in 1970, the U.S. Army Gen. William Westmoreland is reported to have said: “On the battlefield of the future, enemy forces will be located, tracked and targeted almost instantaneously through the use of data links, computer-assisted intelligence and automated fire control. … I am confident the American people expect this country to take full advantage of its technology–to welcome and applaud the developments that will replace wherever possible the man with the machine.” Is this vision from the 1970s being realized today?

The basic strategies and thought processes are the same but the methods of Sun Tzu or Carl von Clausewitz or WW2 are long gone as the modern battlefields evolve. There are still tactics such as the use of decoys, deception and the element of surprise, but today the remote-controlled Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs), high-tech guidance and targeting systems, mobile missile launchers and anti-aircraft systems are some of the most sophisticated technologies on the planet.

Reflecting the modern realities, the US military is targeting its recruiting efforts on a generation of Americans that has grown up with computer-based video games. The recently opened Army Experience Center in Philadelphia is a fitting counterpart to the retail experience: 14,500 square feet of mostly shoot-’em-up video games and three full-scale simulators, including an AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter, an armed Humvee and a Black Hawk copter with M4 carbine assault rifles. For those who want to take the experience deeper, the center has 22 recruiters, according to a report in the New York Times.

On a practical level, thousands of miles away from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, American remote pilots in Nevada fly armed drones and target the perceived enemy with deadly force. In front of the remote human pilots is a live video from the Predator's camera, thousands of feet above ground. Buildings and trucks come into view. They zoom in and out, put the cross-hairs on the targets and fire missiles with ease, killing dozens on the ground.

Beyond Nevada,at Djibouti's Camp Le Monier, CIA agents and special forces troops - about 1500 personnel in all - have opened a wide-ranging but little-reported front in President George W. Bush's so-called "war on terror".

This high-tech, not-so-covert battle is part of a broader US effort against suspected terrorists. It surfaces frequently, with news of air strikes on suspected Taliban forces in Afghanistan or al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. Such warfare places heavy reliance on the accuracy and breadth of human intelligence on the ground. In Afghanistan, failure of such intelligence has often led to growing friendly fire incidents and increasing civilian casualties.

In addition to human intelligence on the ground, there is need for Electronic Warfare Support (ES). ES in military terms, is the passive detection of signals in order to detect and locate threats or target location, information necessary to conduct Electronic Attack (EA). By comparison, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) is the related process of analyzing and identifying the intercepted frequencies (e.g. as a cell phone or RADAR). SIGINT is a combination of ELINT, COMINT, and MASINT.

On the military strategy and planning front, wargames are a subgenre of strategy video games that emphasize strategic or tactical warfare on a map. Computer wargames are generally classified based on whether a game is turn-based or real-time and whether the game's focus is upon military strategy or tactics. These distinctions divide computer wargames into four categories: real-time strategy, real-time tactics, turn-based strategy, and turn-based tactics. Wargaming is an essential part of any high-tech military campaign.

Given the nature of the broad shift to high-tech warfare in the battlefields of the world, it is understandable that Pakistan's military is beginning to take it seriously. All three Pakistani military branches have sought to build UAV capabilities. The Army has considerably increased its UAV inventory; the Air Force has formed two UAV squadrons (with the intention of fielding up to six); and the Navy tested the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 rotary UAV from a frigate in March, Defense News reports. Karachi-based Integrated Dynamics, the designer and manufacturer of drones for Pakistan Army and Air Force, actually exports its Border Eagle surveillance drone to the United States for border patrol duties. The company also makes drones for the turbojet-powered Tornado decoy, which can fly up to 200 kilometers, and emit false radar signals to confuse enemy air defenses into thinking they are attacking aircraft.

Pakistan's traditional rival India is pursuing relationships with Israel and UK to acquire UAVs. All of India's current UAV needs are met by Israel, and this partnership will ensure that will continue to be the case for at least the near future.

Related Links:

Pakistani Drones in America

Foreign Origin of India's Agni Missiles

Mockery of Pakistani Sovereignty

India, Israel UAV Partnership

New York Times

India's UAV Technology Center

NPR Radio

Electronic Warfare


America's High-tech Warfare

It's not Your Father's Military


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an CNN-IBN online poll result of its Indian audience:

Is Israel a role model for India when it comes to security?

Yes: 59 per cent

No: 41 per cent

This poll confirms my earlier post about India's middle class demanding India "do a Lebanon" in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Comment received via email:

Dear Riaz,

Good thinking.

It is not like Pakistan had an option -- with not much money left to buy real fighter planes, and with all Pakistani airforce pilots too busy land-grabbing in Karachi and elsewhere, thus having no time to train for combat action, drones are the way to go.

In fact the Pakistani army should be entirely replaced by walking drones. There will soon be a couple of Unmanned Army Brigades (UAB).

Integrated Dynamics is exporting also to Italy, Spain and other countries. Their technology is all based on Chinese components and integration work is done in Karachi with significant electronic design and testing, which is not a small feat, as we both know.

Keep up the good work.


Riaz Haq said...


Along with the high-tech robotics, you still need significant human intelligence and well-trained special ops units to be effective.
In fact, that's where the US has been lacking, in addition to lack of political framework needed to win the war on terror.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on the effectiveness of American predators:

The predator drone attack which killed two senior al-Qaeda operatives on New Year's day is the latest chapter in an intensive campaign by the US. Many in Washington believe it is having a significant impact on al-Qaeda and its ability to operate.

The two operatives killed in the most recent strike had both been wanted by the US for years.

"We believe strongly that Usama al-Kini and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan are in fact dead," a US counter-terrorism official told the BBC.

The men were killed by an unmanned Predator drone carrying Hellfire missiles, the latest strike in an intensifying campaign with around two dozen such attacks since last summer.

According to analysts, the campaign is the result of the lower degree of certainty required to launch missiles, and a decision to increase the number of strikes and widen the target set of what can be hit.

But it also thought to be the product of new technology being employed.

Last year I visited Creech air force base in Nevada, where the military drones are controlled from. The CIA drones used in attacking high profile al-Qaeda targets are controlled from a separate location.

Inside a ground control station, we saw grainy pictures beamed back from Afghanistan of a Taleban compound which the drone was preparing to fire on.

The drones have highly advanced sensor balls hanging out of their underbelly which can beam back pictures as well as provide other forms of data.

The drones offer other unique advantages, according to Colonel Chris Chambliss, in their ability to stay over a target and watch for a longer period than a manned flight.

"The weapons are the same that we carry on manned platforms so it's not the weapons per se but it's the persistence," he told me. "It's what we call the unblinking eye."

Security analysts believe the US may also be using new technology to track al-Qaeda leaders.

Considerable investment has gone into a programme looking at "Clandestine Tagging Tracking and Locating" technologies.

These allow individuals to be invisibly tagged and tracked or located at great distance by unique identifiers.

Together with more traditional methods like human intelligence and the tracking of communications, these technologies are thought to have been employed aggressively against al-Qaeda.

Most individual leaders are largely replaceable for al-Qaeda, apart from perhaps one or two who have particular expertise in developing unconventional weapons - men such as Abu Khabab Al-Masri who was reportedly killed by a strike last year.

Riaz Haq said...

According Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Iran is claiming building a UAV with 600 mile range.

A top Iranian defense official said Wednesday that the country has built an unmanned surveillance aircraft with a range of more than 600 miles (1,000 kilometers).

Deputy Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi told the semiofficial Fars news agency that he could not provide more details on what he called an important achievement.

To learn more, please visit here.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent news report on Asian nukes from Times of India:

Pakistan is estimated to have more nuclear warheads than India and the two Asian neighbours along with China are increasing their arsenals and deploying weapons at more sites, two eminent American atomic experts have claimed.

While Pakistan is estimated to possess 70-90 nuclear weapons, India is believed to have 60-80, claims Robert S Norris and Hans M Kristensen in their latest article 'Nuclear Notebook: Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2009'.

The article published in the latest issue of 'Bulletin of the Atomic Science' claimed that Beijing, Islamabad and New Delhi are quantitatively and qualitatively increasing their arsenals and deploying weapons at more sites, yet the locations are difficult to pinpoint.

For example, no reliable public information exists on where Pakistan or India produces its nuclear weapons, it said.

"Whereas many of the Chinese bases are known, this is not the case in Pakistan and India, where we have found no credible information that identifies permanent nuclear weapons storage locations," they said.

"Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not believed to be fully operational under normal circumstances, India is thought to store its nuclear warheads and bombs in central storage locations rather than on bases with operational forces. But, since all three countries are expanding their arsenals, new bases and storage sites probably are under construction," the two nuclear experts said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent posting on USAF website:

5/5/2010 - TUCSON, Ariz. (AFNS) -- Eight Pakistani air force pilots, each experienced in the F-16 Fighting Falcon's A and B models, recently learned to fly the newer C- and D-model aircraft at the 162nd Fighter Wing, the international F-16 training unit, and were honored at a graduation ceremony May 4 here.

Pakistan's air force officials soon will upgrade their 30-year-old fleet of F-16s and the pilots, charged with flying more capable fighters, are ready to handle the new technology after training with the Arizona Air National Guard.

The pilots are the first from their country to train in the United States since 1983, when the last class of Pakistani pilots trained at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

"This graduation is historic for U.S.-Pakistan relations," said Pakistani air force Wing Commander Ghazanfar Latif, a 12-year F-16A pilot. "For Pakistan, our air force is gaining capabilities that it has needed for the last decade; capabilities that are critical to ongoing operations in Pakistan's war on terror."

The new planes purchased by Pakistani government officials, Block 52 versions of the multirole fighter, are far more advanced than the older A-model versions and will allow pilots to conduct operations at night and greatly enhance their use of precision munitions.

The first four of the 18 planes purchased are scheduled for delivery June 26 to Shahbaz Air Base in Pakistan. The rest will be delivered on a staggered schedule throughout this year. In addition, Pakistan's existing F-16 fleet will undergo a mid-life update in 2011 designed to upgrade cockpits and avionics to match the F-16C/D.

In preparation for the June delivery, the eight pilots and their families will have spent 10 months in the United States navigating the upgrade-training pipeline. They spent two and half months reviewing military aviation terminology at the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and seven months in flight training at Tucson International Airport. Since the C/D-models used for training in Tucson are Block 25 F-16s, they will next undergo two weeks of additional Block 52 instruction before returning to Pakistan.

"Even though they're flying Block 25s here, they will still be able to operate their block 52s back home," said Lt. Col. Kelly Parkinson, the 195th Fighter Squadron commander. "When they leave here they will get training from Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, on the differences. The two blocks fly the same; it's essentially the employment of weapons that makes the difference."

The bulk of the flight training in Tucson included a transition course from the F-16A/B to the F-16C/D, flight lead upgrade training and instructor pilot certification.

"We're training these eight pilots so they can return home and be instructors themselves and teach others to fly the new F-16s," Colonel Parkinson said.

"I think the training here is very well organized and tailored to our needs," Commander Latif said. "Also, the standards here are very high. This is going to make a big difference because we do not have the capability to make precision engagements at night with A models. Everybody understands that collateral damage is a big factor and the sensors on the C-model will help us carry out precision engagement and close-air support."

With so much to learn, the students flew a schedule of five flights per week. The average student tempo is closer to three per week.

"The radar, data link and other avionics help create the big picture of what is going on around you," Squadron Leader Yasir Malik said. "There's lots of information to process in the C model, so you have to prioritize all of the input you are getting. But these instructors know what they are doing, and they are good teachers."

Riaz Haq said...

It appears that Stuxnet worm was designed, developed and released by western and-or Israeli intelligence agencies to sabotage industrial systems at Iranian nuclear facilities. Here's a CNET report:

Iran's official news agency said today that a sophisticated computer worm purportedly designed to disrupt power grids and other such industrial facilities had infected computers at the country's first nuclear-power plant but had not caused any serious damage.

The Stuxnet worm, which some see as heralding a new era of cyberwarfare, appeared in July and was already known to be widespread in Iran. In fact, its high concentration there, along with a delay in the opening of the Bushehr plant, led one security researcher to hypothesize that Stuxnet was created to sabotage Iran's nuclear industry.

In addition to emphasizing the threat posed by the worm, which could be used to remotely seize control of industrial systems, today's news could well add to speculation about Stuxnet, the sophistication of which has caused some to suspect that a nation state, such as Israel or the U.S., might be behind its creation.

The worm exploits three holes in Windows, one of which has been patched, and targets computers running Siemens software used in industrial control systems.

Mahmoud Jafari, the project manager at the Bushehr plant, said the worm "has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant" and that a team was working to remove it from several computers, according to Iran's IRNA news agency, which was cited in a report by the Associated Press.

Jafari said the infection involved the personal computers of several staff members working at Bushehr and would not affect plans to open the nuclear plant in October, the AP reported.

Read more:

Riaz Haq said...

The US is seeking to expand CIA's presence for large scale covert war in Pakistan, according to Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is pushing to expand a secret CIA effort to help Pakistan target militants in their havens near the Afghan border, according to senior officials, as the White House seeks new ways to prod Islamabad into more aggressive action against groups allied with al Qaeda,

The push comes as relations between Washington and Islamabad have soured over U.S. impatience with the slow pace of Pakistani strikes against militants who routinely attack U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama has said he will begin to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July, increasing the urgency to show progress in the nine-year war against the Taliban.

The U.S. asked Pakistan in recent weeks to allow additional Central Intelligence Agency officers and special operations military trainers to enter the country as part of Washington's efforts to intensify pressure on militants.

The requests have so far been rebuffed by Islamabad, which remains extremely wary of allowing a larger U.S. ground presence in Pakistan, illustrating the precarious nature of relations between Washington and its wartime ally.

The number of CIA personnel in Pakistan has grown substantially in recent years. The exact number is highly classified. The push for more forces reflects, in part, the increased need for intelligence to support the CIA drone program that has killed hundreds of militants with missile strikes. The additional officers could help Pakistani forces reach targets drones can't.

There are currently about 900 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, 600 of which are providing flood relief and 150 of which are assigned to the training mission.

A senior Pakistani official said relations with the CIA remain strong but Islamabad continues to oppose a large increase in the number of American personnel on the ground.

The Obama administration has been ramping up pressure on Islamabad in recent weeks to attack militants after months of publicly praising Pakistani efforts. The CIA has intensified drone strikes in Pakistan, and the military in Afghanistan has carried out cross-border helicopter raids, underlining U.S. doubts Islamabad can be relied upon to be more aggressive. Officials have even said they were going to stop asking for Pakistani help with the U.S.'s most difficult adversary in the region, the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network, because it was unproductive.

The various moves reflect a growing belief that the Pakistani safe havens are a bigger threat to Afghan stability than previously thought.

When senior Pakistani officials visited Washington this week, Obama administration officials signaled they are willing to push for a long-term military aid package. But they also have made clear to Pakistani officials they expect tangible results, and they threatened that current cash payments to Pakistan could be reduced if things don't improve in tribal areas such as North Waziristan.

The current efforts to expand CIA presence are meant to expand intelligence collection and facilitate more aggressive Pakistani-led actions on the ground. Some U.S. officials, however, remain hopeful that Islamabad will allow a greater covert presence that could include CIA paramilitary forces.
Much of the on-ground intelligence in Pakistan is gathered by the country's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Some U.S. officials believe Pakistan wants the U.S. to remain dependent on the ISI for that intelligence.

Riaz Haq said...

The US has offered $2 billion military aid to Pakistan over next 5 years, according to Wall Street Journal:

The new military aid, which is contingent on congressional approval, is expected to amount to more than $2 billion over five years, would pay for equipment Pakistan can use for counterinsurgency and counterterror operations. U.S. officials say they hope the new aid could effectively eliminate Pakistan's objections that it doesn't have the equipment needed to launch more operations in tribal areas.

Department of Defense officials, including Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet on Wednesday with Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani at the Pentagon.

In a recent report to Congress, the White House said it believed the Pakistani military was avoiding direct conflict with the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda forces for political reasons. Despite the U.S. calls for a crackdown on the Haqqani network, some Pakistani officials continue to support the group, viewing it as a longtime ally that has steadfastly opposed Indian involvement in Afghanistan.

Pakistan received about $1.9 billion in military assistance from the U.S. in fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30, including about $300 million in grants to buy U.S. defense equipment. The new package of defense equipment would average out to an additional $100 million a year in aid, although the size of the grants would start lower and grow over time.

By seeking assurances from Pakistan that the new equipment will be used only to combat militants in the border areas, the U.S. hopes to reassure India that it isn't trying to further boost the power of Pakistan's conventional military.

Officials from both the U.S. and Pakistan rejected the notion that the military assistance and talks were a quid pro quo, arguing that they are trying to build a partnership, not cut a deal.

U.S. officials, although they denied that the increased aid was part of an explicit deal to get Islamabad to mount a ground offensive in North Waziristan, said they hoped increased Pakistani military capabilities would translate into increased action on the ground.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' story on OECD raising alarm about cyber attacks:

Attacks on computer systems now have the potential to cause global catastrophe, but only in combination with another disaster, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in a report on Monday.

The study, part of a wider OECD project examining possible "Future Global Shocks" such as a failure of the world's financial system or a large-scale pandemic, said there were very few single "cyber events" that could cause a global shock.

Examples were a successful attack on one of the technical protocols on which the Internet depends, or a large solar flare that wiped out key communications components such as satellites.

But it said a combination of events such as coordinated cyber attacks, or a cyber incident occurring during another form of disaster, should be a serious concern for policy makers.

"In that eventuality, 'perfect storm' conditions could exist," said the report, written by Professor Peter Sommer of the London School of Economics and Dr Ian Brown of Britain's Oxford University.

Governments are increasingly emphasising the importance of cyber security.

The United States is preparing for cyber conflict and has launched its own military cyber command. Britain last October rated cyber attacks as one of the top external threats, promising to spend an extra 650 million pounds ($1 billion) on the issue.

Meanwhile, emerging nations such as China and Russia are believed to see it as an arena in which they can challenge the United States' conventional military dominance.

The Stuxnet computer worm -- which targets industrial systems and was widely believed to be a state attack on Iran's nuclear programme -- is seen as a sign of the increasing militarisation of cyberspace.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that the worm was a joint U.S.-Israeli effort and had been tested at Israel's Dimona nuclear plant.

The OECD study concluded that cyber attacks would be ubiquitous in future wars, and that cyber weaponry would be "increasingly deployed and with increasing effect by ideological activists of all persuasions and interests".

"There are significant and growing risks of localised misery and loss as a result of compromise of computer and telecommunications services," the report said.

But it concluded that a true "cyberwar", fought almost entirely through computer systems, was unlikely as many critical systems were well protected and the effects of attacks were difficult to predict, and so could backfire on the assailants.

Brown said adopting a largely military approach to cyber security was a mistake, as most targets in the critical national infrastructure, such as communications, energy, finance and transport, were in the private sector.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on Wikileaks cables showing growing US and Israeli influence in New Delhi:

The publication and analysis of the US embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing, but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture. The US has acquired an influential position in various spheres - strategic affairs, foreign policy and economic policies. The US has access to the bureaucracy, military, security and intelligence systems and has successfully penetrated them at various levels. The cables cover a period mainly from 2005 to 2009, the very period when the UPA government went ahead to forge the strategic alliance with the US.
The volte face by the Manmohan Singh government in voting against Iran in the IAEA in September 2005 was one such crucial event. The cables illustrate how the US government exercised maximum pressure to achieve this turn around. The Indian government was told that unless India takes a firm stand against Iran, the US Congress would not pass the legislation to approve the nuclear deal.
Other cables reveal how the United States succeeded in getting India to coordinate policy towards other countries in South Asia like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The close cooperation with Israel under US aegis is also spelt out.

The success achieved in getting India's foreign policy to be "congruent" to US policy is smugly stated in an embassy cable that Indian officials are ‘loathe to admit publicly that India and the US have begun coordinating foreign policies'.
One of the cables from the US ambassador to the American defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld spells out the agenda which the Americans hope to accomplish during the visit. The Defence Framework Agreement was the first of this type to be signed by India with any country. It envisages a whole gamut of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. It is evident from the cables that the US government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for such an agreement from the time of the NDA government.
The cables show the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terrorist attack. The then National Security Advisor, M K Narayanan was seen by the Americans as eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving agencies such as the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also provide a glimpse of how the Americans are able to penetrate the intelligence and security apparatus. Among the forty cables which were first published by the British paper, The Guardian, there are two instances of improper contacts. In the first case a member of the National Security Advisory Board meets an American embassy official and offers to provide information about Iranian contacts in India and requests for his visit to the United States to be arranged in return. In another case the US embassy reports that it is able to get access to terrorism related information directly from a police official serving in the Delhi Police, rather than going through official channels.
The collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries had already resulted in American penetration. Two cases of espionage had come up. During the NDA government, a RAW officer, Rabinder Singh was recruited by the CIA. When his links were uncovered, he was helped by the CIA to flee to the United States. During the UPA government a systems analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, the contact having been established through the US-India Cyber Security Forum.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Defense News story on how Pakistan plans to counter India's ABMs:

ISLAMABAD - In response to India's pursuit of missile defenses, Pakistan has expanded its countermeasure efforts, primarily through development of maneuvering re-entry vehicles. The Army Strategic Forces Command, which controls Pakistan's ballistic missiles, has since at least 2004 said it wanted to develop such warheads; analysts now believe these are in service.

Mansoor Ahmed, lecturer at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Islamabad's Quaid-e-Azam University, said that in addition to maneuverable warheads, multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) may be developed to stay ahead of India's "multilayered ballistic-missile defense system" and potential future countermeasures.

"This, coupled with submarine-launched, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, would ensure the survivability of its nuclear deterrent and enhance the effectiveness of its missile force that can beat any Indian defenses," he said.
He (Harsh Pant) further explained, "A missile defense system would help India blunt Pakistan's 'first use' nuclear force posture that had led Pakistan to believe that it had inhibited India from launching a conventional attack against it for fear of its escalation to the nuclear level. With a missile defense system in place, India would be able to restore the status quo ante, thereby making a conventional military option against Pakistan potent again."Such a missile defense system and a second-strike capability "would enhance the uncertainties of India's potential adversaries, regardless of the degree of effectiveness of missile interception, and would act as a disincentive to their resort to nuclear weapons," he said.

Asked whether Pakistan's countermeasures would be effective against such ABM systems, Pant replied, "most definitely."

He said, "According to various reports, Pakistan has been developing MIRV capability for the Shaheen-II ballistic missiles and [the] Shaheen-III missile is under development."
"Although the current capability of Pakistani missiles is built around radar seekers, the integration of re-entry vehicles would make these extremely potent and defeat the anti-ballistic missile defense systems. This would be especially true of Indian aircraft carriers that would become extremely vulnerable," he said.
Analysts have for years speculated that the Navy will equip its submarines with a variant of the Babur cruise missile armed with a nuclear warhead. However, whether a cruise-missile-based arm of the nuclear triad at sea would be effective and survivable in the face of Indian air defenses is uncertain.
When this was put to analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank, he said the interception of cruise missiles is not so simple."I think Babur will form the sea-based arm of the Pakistani nuclear deterrent" he said, "but the problem in targeting subsonic cruise missiles is that they are harder to detect due to their lower radar cross-signature, low-level navigation, and use of waypoints to circumvent more secure and heavily defended areas."

"By the time you detect them, there is not much time left to vector aircraft for interception."

However, Shabbir conceded it would be possible for an airborne interceptor to shoot down a missile like Babur. "An aircraft already on [patrol] might be lucky to pick it up on its own radar well in advance [if looking in the correct direction], or vectored to it by ground-based radar."

Riaz Haq said...

Reports by Reuters news agency suggest that US is offering to sell drones to Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The United States will provide Pakistan with 85 small "Raven" drone aircraft, a U.S. military official told Reuters, a key step to addressing Islamabad's calls for access to U.S. drone technology.

The official, speaking on Thursday on condition of anonymity, declined to disclose the cost of the non-lethal, short-range surveillance aircraft, which are manufactured by the U.S.-based AeroVironment Inc.

A company spokesman said the Raven is used by U.S. allies including Italy, Spain and Norway and is one of the most widely utilized unmanned aircraft in the world.

The disclosure is another sign of growing U.S. military assistance to Pakistan, a crucial if often tense ally in the U.S. fight against al Qaeda and insurgents attacking U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
The Raven, according to the company website, has a wingspan of just 1.4 meters (4.5 feet) and a weight of 1.9 kilos (4.2 pounds). It can deliver real-time color or infrared imagery, giving troops on the ground an edge on the battlefield.

A senior U.S. defense official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Raven drone order is separate from U.S. plans to offer Pakistan much larger, longer-range surveillance drones, a proposition put forward by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a visit to Pakistan in January 2010.

That offer delighted Islamabad at the time but Pakistani officials say those talks have been held up over complaints about the cost proposed by Washington and a slow timeline for delivery.

The defense official suggested those talks were nearing conclusion.

"We're in final discussions about which one they really want. They think they want the Shadow," the senior defense official said.

Gates had originally offered Pakistan 12 Shadow drones, manufactured by AAI Corporation, a unit of Textron Systems.

They are not the weaponized versions being used by the CIA to track and kill al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in Pakistan but are used strictly for surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Riaz Haq said...

Growing Space Focus in Sino-Indian Rivalry, November 12, 2010, By Global Intelligence Report Analysts:

ANALYSIS: Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Masood Khan, signed a loan agreement with the government-owned Export-Import Bank of China on 9 October to finance the ground control apparatus for a new ‘Paksat-1R’ communications satellite, to be launched on 14 August 2011. This bilateral effort to ensure technical interchange illustrates space as a growing area of contestation in regional strategic developments.

Chinese Space Outreach: This satellite project builds upon a substantial history of China serving as a reliable supplier of sensitive military technology to Pakistan. China launched Pakistan’s first indigenous satellite, Badr-A, in 1990 from Xichang Launch Center in Sichuan. The operation of this satellite gave Pakistani scientists practical understanding of telemetry, orbital patterns, surveillance, and Chinese launch platforms.

The Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), headquartered in Beijing, was established in 2005 to improve Chinese multilateral space collaboration. APSCO members include Bangladesh, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, and Thailand. International technical cooperation enables Beijing to encourage interoperability with Chinese rocket technology and obtain a greater share of the international commercial launch market.

Achievements in civilian space programs can have great relevance to military projects. Civilian and military rockets utilize similar propulsion, positioning, and control technologies. Space cooperation can therefore serve dual purposes, and support Chinese strategic as well as commercial aims in placing Chinese assistance at the heart of rocket programs of potential allies.

Chinese Strategic Developments: A core aim of Chinese strategic planning is to improve its utilization of space-borne assets. Chinese Air Force Commander General Xu Qilang commented in November 2009 that “as far as the revolution in military affairs is concerned, the competition between military forces is moving towards outer space…this is a historical inevitability and cannot be turned back”.

China’s determination to hold the option of denying the use of space-based capabilities to other states was illuminated in its successful test of an anti-satellite weapon in January 2007, eliminating an old Chinese weather satellite. Building upon this experience, Beijing conducted its first ballistic missile defense (BMD) test on 11 January 2010.

China is developing a geospatial positioning Compass Navigation Satellite System (CNSS), equivalent to the American GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. This will further improve military targeting and location abilities, while offering civilians a satellite positioning service that heralds Chinese technical acumen. Beijing also seeks to launch a manned space lab by 2020.

Indian Capabilities: New Delhi shares the recognition by Beijing of the importance of a wide range of space capabilities as an indispensable element of a robust defense. India’s ‘Phase 1′ BMD system incorporates the Prithvi Air Defense missile for high-altitude elimination of adversary missiles, and an Advanced Air Defense system for low-altitude interception. Supportive radar technology for this system has been sourced from Israel.

This system has been successfully tested and is moving toward active service. An improved ‘PDV’ interceptor is in development to replace the Prithvi Air Defense missile. The ‘Phase 1′ system is designed to target missiles with a maximum range of 2,000km, such as the Pakistani Shaheen-2 and Ghauri missiles. A ‘Phase 2′ system is planned for missiles with a range greater than 2,000km, implicitly those of Chinese origin.
American Leverage: The Indian Space Research Organisation is working with NASA on lunar exploration tasks. Indian diplomats are seeking for Washington to lift remaining restrictions ......

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistanis seek prosecution of CIA legal counsel for authorizing drone strikes, according to The Guardian:

Campaigners against US drone strikes in Pakistan are calling for the CIA's former legal chief to be arrested and charged with murder for approving attacks that killed hundreds of people.

Amid growing concern around the world over the use of drones, lawyers and relatives of some of those killed are seeking an international arrest warrant for John Rizzo, until recently acting general counsel for the American intelligence agency.

Opponents of drones say the unmanned aircraft are responsible for the deaths of up to 2,500 Pakistanis in 260 attacks since 2004. US officials say the vast majority of those killed are "militants". Earlier this week 48 people were killed in two strikes on tribal regions of Pakistan. The American definition of "militant" has been disputed by relatives and campaigners.

The attempt to seek an international arrest warrant for Rizzo is being led by the British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith of the campaign group Reprieve, and lawyers in Pakistan. The lawyers are also building cases against other individuals, including drone operators interviewed or photographed during organised press facilities.

A first information report, the first step in seeking a prosecution of Rizzo in Pakistan, will be formally lodged early next week at a police station in the capital, Islamabad, on behalf of relatives of two people killed in drone strikes in 2009. The report will also allege Rizzo should be charged with conspiracy to murder a large number of Pakistani citizens.

Now retired, Rizzo, 63, is being pursued after admitting in an interview with the magazine Newsweek that since 2004 he had approved one drone attack order a month on targets in Pakistan, even though the US is not at war with the country.

Rizzo, who was by his own admission "up to my eyeballs" in approving CIA use of "enhanced interrogation techniques", said in the interview that the CIA operated "a hit list". He also asked: "How many law professors have signed off on a death warrant?"

Rizzo has also admitted being present while civilian operators conducted drone strikes from their terminals at the CIA headquarters in Virginia.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting excerpt of Peter Singer's Brookings' article on war fighting robots:

One US Air Force general has predicted that conflicts in the near future will involve “tens of thousands” of robots – and not the robots of today. The current Packbots and Predators are just the first generation of battlefield robots; they are like the Model T Ford or the Wright brothers’ Flyer when compared to the prototypes already under development. Much as the earliest designs for the automobile and the aeroplane spread rapidly around the globe, so too is the revolution in military robotics. 44 countries are building robot systems today, including the UK, France, Russia, China, Israel, Iran and the UAE
The reason is that while we most often focus on the narrative of collateral damage in discussions of these drone strikes, our interpretations are not only shaped by whether civilians get in the way or not. There is something more at work. The meaning of these strikes – and the battle to define their morality and efficacy – cuts to the heart of the narratives by which each side in the “war on terror” defines itself.

The most basic rationale for the use of unmanned systems is to reduce the user’s risk of casualties: American commanders I have interviewed reflexively cite this as the most important benefit of the new technology. As one soldier put it: “When a robot dies, you don’t have to write a letter to its mother.”

But as Peter Feaver, a Duke University professor turned Bush Administration National Security Council adviser, asks: “What is Osama bin Laden’s fundamental premise if not the belief that killing some Americans will drive our country to its knees?”

The conflicts now raging in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are being fought by combatants with vastly different understandings of war, the role of the warrior and the meaning of sacrifice. ....
It is for this reason that completely different interpretations are made of the same act. To some, a person who blows themselves up along with a hotel full of civilians is a shaheed carrying out a noble act of jihad. To others, that same person is a fanatical murderer committing an ignoble act of barbarity. Similarly, a pilot who uses a drone to strike with precision from thousands of miles away may see himself as a warrior fighting in full respect of the international laws of war. But 7,000 miles away that very same pilot is described by others as a coward engaging in an act of “heartless terrorism”, as the lyrics of a Pakistani pop song put it.

The use of unmanned systems may therefore provide the most graphic illustration of the “war of ideas” that underpins much of the conflict currently underway. The very value of robots in war is their ability to diminish human loss for the side using them: they are the ultimate means of avoiding sacrifice. But the side that turns to robots is fighting against those who see death as something to be celebrated, and not merely for themselves, but also for those around them. The loss of civilians to a member of al Qa’eda is not something to be lamented or apologised for, but viewed as a victory. So, with the growing use of remote technologies and terrorism, the warriors of the two sides meet less and less in battle – whether actual combat or the battle of ideologies. Each side has its own worldview, but it is one that the other side views as not only irrational, but also contemptible.

Thus, when we bring together those who fight with robotics and those who see themselves as martyrs targeted by them, a powerful irony is revealed. For all our growing use of machines in war, our humanity remains at the centre of it. The dilemmas of modern warfare may seem to be driven by technological advances, but they are rooted in our all too human politics and psychology. If we want to understand the impact of using robots to wage war, we should really look within ourselves.

Riaz Haq said...

A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones, according to Wired magazine:

The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.

“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”

Military network security specialists aren’t sure whether the virus and its so-called “keylogger” payload were introduced intentionally or by accident; it may be a common piece of malware that just happened to make its way into these sensitive networks. The specialists don’t know exactly how far the virus has spread. But they’re sure that the infection has hit both classified and unclassified machines at Creech. That raises the possibility, at least, that secret data may have been captured by the keylogger, and then transmitted over the public internet to someone outside the military chain of command.

Drones have become America’s tool of choice in both its conventional and shadow wars, allowing U.S. forces to attack targets and spy on its foes without risking American lives. Since President Obama assumed office, a fleet of approximately 30 CIA-directed drones have hit targets in Pakistan more than 230 times; all told, these drones have killed more than 2,000 suspected militants and civilians, according to the Washington Post. More than 150 additional Predator and Reaper drones, under U.S. Air Force control, watch over the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. American military drones struck 92 times in Libya between mid-April and late August. And late last month, an American drone killed top terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki — part of an escalating unmanned air assault in the Horn of Africa and southern Arabian peninsula.

But despite their widespread use, the drone systems are known to have security flaws. Many Reapers and Predators don’t encrypt the video they transmit to American troops on the ground. In the summer of 2009, U.S. forces discovered “days and days and hours and hours” of the drone footage on the laptops of Iraqi insurgents. A $26 piece of software allowed the militants to capture the video.

The lion’s share of U.S. drone missions are flown by Air Force pilots stationed at Creech, a tiny outpost in the barren Nevada desert, 20 miles north of a state prison and adjacent to a one-story casino. In a nondescript building, down a largely unmarked hallway, is a series of rooms, each with a rack of servers and a “ground control station,” or GCS. There, a drone pilot and a sensor operator sit in their flight suits in front of a series of screens. In the pilot’s hand is the joystick, guiding the drone as it soars above Afghanistan, Iraq, or some other battlefield.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times report on US plans to use cyber warfare against Libya and Pakistan:

The Obama administration is revving up the nation’s digital capabilities, while publicly emphasizing only its efforts to defend vital government, military and public infrastructure networks.

“We don’t want to be the ones who break the glass on this new kind of warfare,” said James Andrew Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he specializes in technology and national security.

That reluctance peaked during planning for the opening salvos of the Libya mission, and it was repeated on a smaller scale several weeks later, when military planners suggested a far narrower computer-network attack to prevent Pakistani radars from spotting helicopters carrying Navy Seal commandos on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

Again, officials decided against it. Instead, specially modified, radar-evading Black Hawk helicopters ferried the strike team, and a still-secret stealthy surveillance drone was deployed.

“These cybercapabilities are still like the Ferrari that you keep in the garage and only take out for the big race and not just for a run around town, unless nothing else can get you there,” said one Obama administration official briefed on the discussions.

The debate about a potential cyberattack against Libya was described by more than a half-dozen officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the classified planning.

In the days ahead of the American-led airstrikes to take down Libya’s integrated air-defense system, a more serious debate considered the military effectiveness — and potential legal complications — of using cyberattacks to blind Libyan radars and missiles.

“They were seriously considered because they could cripple Libya’s air defense and lower the risk to pilots, but it just didn’t pan out,” said a senior Defense Department official.

After a discussion described as thorough and never vituperative, the cyberwarfare proposals were rejected before they reached the senior political levels of the White House.

Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of the military’s Africa Command, which led the two-week American air campaign against Libya until NATO assumed full control of the operation on March 31, would not comment on any proposed cyberattacks. In an interview, he said only that “no capability that I ever asked for was denied.”

Senior officials said one of the central reasons a cyberoffensive was rejected for Libya was that it might not have been ready for use in time, given that the rebel city of Benghazi was on the verge of being overrun by government forces.

While popular fiction and films depict cyberattacks as easy to mount — only a few computer keystrokes needed — in reality it takes significant digital snooping to identify potential entry points and susceptible nodes in a linked network of communications systems, radars and missiles like that operated by the Libyan government, and then to write and insert the proper poisonous codes.

“It’s the cyberequivalent of fumbling around in the dark until you find the doorknob,” Mr. Lewis said. “It takes time to find the vulnerabilities. Where is the thing that I can exploit to disrupt the network?”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian story on nuclear weapons spending by several nations including India and Pakistan:

..For several countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Israel and France, nuclear weapons are being assigned roles that go well beyond deterrence, says the report. In Russia and Pakistan, it warns, nuclear weapons are assigned "war-fighting roles in military planning".

The report is the first in a series of papers for the Trident Commission, an independent cross-party initiative set up by Basic. Its leading members include former Conservative defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Liberal Democrat leader and defence spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell and former Labour defence secretary Lord Browne.
Pakistan and India, it warns, appear to be seeking smaller, lighter nuclear warheads so they have a greater range or can be deployed over shorter distances for tactical or "non-strategic" roles. "In the case of Israel, the size of its nuclear-tipped cruise missile enabled submarine fleet is being increased and the country seems to be on course, on the back of its satellite launch rocket programme, for future development of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM)," the report notes.

A common justification for the new nuclear weapons programmes is perceived vulnerability in the face of nuclear and conventional force development elsewhere. For example, Russia has expressed concern over the US missile defence and Conventional Prompt Global Strike programmes. China has expressed similar concerns about the US as well as India, while India's programmes are driven by fear of China and Pakistan.

Pakistan justifies its nuclear weapons programme by referring to India's conventional force superiority, the report observes.

In a country-by-country analysis, the report says:

• The US is planning to spend $700bn on nuclear weapons over the next decade. A further $92bn will be spent on new nuclear warheads and the US also plans to build 12 nuclear ballistic missile submarines, air-launched nuclear cruise missiles and bombs.

• Russia plans to spend $70bn on improving its strategic nuclear triad (land, sea and air delivery systems) by 2020. It is introducing mobile ICBMs with multiple warheads, and a new generation of nuclear weapons submarines to carry cruise as well as ballistic missiles. There are reports that Russia is also planning a nuclear-capable short-range missile for 10 army brigades over the next decade.

• China is rapidly building up its medium and long-range "road mobile" missile arsenal equipped with multiple warheads. Up to five submarines are under construction capable of launching 36-60 sea-launched ballistic missiles, which could provide a continuous at-sea capability.
• Pakistan is extending the range of its Shaheen II missiles, developing nuclear cruise missiles, improving its nuclear weapons design as well as smaller, lighter, warheads. It is also building new plutonium production reactors.

• India is developing new versions of its Agni land-based missiles sufficient to target the whole of Pakistan and large parts of China, including Beijing. It has developed a nuclear ship-launched cruise missile and plans to build five submarines carrying ballistic nuclear missiles..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Salon piece by Glenn Greenwald on civilian victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan:

In late June, President Obama’s chief Terrorism adviser, John Brennan, made an extraordinary claim about drone attacks in Pakistan: “in the last year, ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.” He added: ”if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger.” The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism had heard similar claims from Obama officials over the past several months, and thus set out to examine the relevant evidence to determine if those claims are true.

Last night, they issued the findings of their study which, simply put, definitively establish that the administration’s claim about civilian deaths is patently false. Contrary to Brennan’s public assertions, “a detailed examination by the Bureau of 116 CIA ‘secret’ drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2010 has uncovered at least 10 individual attacks in which 45 or more civilians appear to have died.” That count — which includes numerous children — covers only the civilian deaths which the Bureau could definitively establish by identifying the victims by name. Given how conservative their methodology was, these findings almost certainly under-count, probably dramatically, the number of civilian deaths at U.S. hands during the period about which Brennan made his claim: ”at least 15 additional strikes warrant urgent investigation, with many more civilian deaths possible.”

Other data similarly establish how false and misleading are Brennan’s claims. A British photojournalist providing on-the-scene reporting of the aftermath of drone strikes in Waziristan documented this week that “far more civilians are being injured or dying than the Americans and Pakistanis admit” and “for every 10 to 15 people killed, maybe they get one militant.” To describe Brennan’s claims as merely “inaccurate” or “untrue” is to be unduly generous......

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AINonline story on PAF's use of advanced avionics against militants:

According to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) it has flown more than 5,500 strike sorties over the country’s troubled tribal regions since May 2008. In a rare glimpse into Pakistan’s attempt to counter domestic terrorism from the air, the commander of the PAF described some lessons learned to the Air Chiefs Conference here in Dubai on Saturday.

The need for good airborne reconnaissance was paramount, said Air Chief Marshall Rao Qamar Suleiman. When the Pakistan army launched large-scale operations in the remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in August 2008, the PAF had to rely on Google Earth imagery when planning air support missions, Suleiman admitted.

However, by the time that the army was ready to move against insurgents in the Swat Valley in May 2009, the PAF had acquired Goodrich DB-110 electro-optical reconnaissance pods for its F-16 fighters, together with the same company’s ground station for imagery exploitation. Intelligence analysts could now identify terrorist training camps, ammunition dumps and command and control facilities. Some of these targets were well camouflaged, and protected by bunkers, Suleiman noted.

Two days before the ground offensive was launched, the PAF launched a series of interdiction missions, and followed up with close air support throughout the six-month campaign. From the imagery collected by the PAF, the army was also able to identify suitable landing zones for the airdrops of commandos.

In these mountainous regions, airpower was best delivered from medium altitude by fast jets, Suleiman said. “The army has lost many attack helicopters due to their operating limitations at high elevations, and [due to] hostile fire,” he noted. Fighters could also react more quickly to developing combat situations.

When the army turned its attention to South Waziristan in October 2009, the PAF conducted a seven-day campaign in advance. By now, the service had added FLIR Systems Star Safire III EO/IR sensor ball to one of its C-130 transports. Army staff on board the C-130 was able to track the movement of terrorists at night, and radio maneuvering instructions to soldiers on the ground.

The PAF has completely overhauled its tactics and techniques for the conduct of irregular warfare, Suleiman said. All of the squadrons were put through a training program over a four-month period. Laser-guided bombs have been used in 80 percent of the PAF strikes, the PAF chief revealed. Avoiding collateral damage was a primary concern, he explained, “especially since we were engaging targets within our own country. We engage isolated structures only, away from populated areas.”

More than 10,600 bombs have been dropped, and 4,600 targets destroyed, he said. The PAF has flown more than 500 F-16 sorties with the DB-110 pod, and 650 with the Star Safire EO/IR sensor on the C-130.

The statistics may impress but while Suleiman claimed that “we’ve broken the back of militants in the FATA,” he also warned that offensive military engagement could only accomplish “10 to 15 percent” of the task of pacifying the tribal areas. The rest must be done by dialogue, winning hearts and minds through economic development of these very poor regions, he said.

In his presentation, Pakistan’s Air Chief Marshall Rao Qamar Suleiman did not mention the Selex Galileo Falco UAV. However, Pakistan was the first customer for the reconnaissance drone, which carries the Anglo-Italian company’s own electro-optical/infrared sensor ball. Suleiman later told AIN that there had been problems with the UAV’s data link, caused partly by terrain masking. “Then we put in a relay station, and started flying it higher, so now we are using it more,” he continued.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's WSJ excerpts on Iran shooting down American stealth drone RQ-170 Sentinel also used in bin Laden raid in Pakistan:

WASHINGTON—Iran said on Sunday that it shot down a U.S. stealth drone near the country's eastern border, but U.S. officials in Afghanistan said the craft could instead be an unmanned reconnaissance plane that veered off course and crashed last week.

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted a military official who said Tehran had downed an RQ-170 Sentinel, the U.S. Air Force's stealth drone.

U.S. and NATO officials wouldn't say what kind of American drone had disappeared, but U.S. officials said there was no indication that the aircraft had been shot down by the Iranians. One American official said the drone likely suffered from a mechanical failure.

American officials said they believe that after the remote pilots lost control of the aircraft, the drone crashed in an unknown location.

On Sunday afternoon, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's command in Afghanistan said the Iranians may have been referring to an unmanned craft lost while flying a mission over western Afghanistan "late last week."
The RQ-170 Sentinel was the type of stealth drone used to conduct surveillance on the compound used by Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, before the May raid by Navy SEAL commandos that killed the al Qaeda leader.
Defense analysts have speculated in the past that the Sentinel, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., was based in Afghanistan not just to conduct secret missions into Pakistan but also for surveillance of Iranian military sites.

The stealth drone was originally part of the Air Force's classified fleet and its existence was officially denied.

But the service now makes available a fact sheet about the aircraft.

The drone is a wing-shaped aircraft, like the stealth bomber, a design that is supposed to make it less visible to radar.

The number of Sentinels that the Air Force operates remains a closely guarded secret.

The "RQ" designation is used for unarmed drones, such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk. But some analysts have said the U.S. might try to arm the airframe at some point in the future.

Iran claims to have its own fleet of unarmed drones, but U.S. officials question Tehran's ability to conduct even short-range reconnaissance with unmanned aircraft.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of an Asian Defense piece on Pakistan's unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) program:

A Practical UCAV for Pakistan

The attempt forward will be to propose a solution in the form of a UCAV for the PAF. We will first focus on some basic parameters that need to be fulfilled. The focus will then shift to defining a specific solution that meets those requirements in a most balanced manner.

We identify the following characteristics as imperative for the discussed UCAV solution:

1. Unmanned Platform
2. Simple construction and achievable technology
3. Simplified single-engine buildable in Pakistan
4. Relatively Low Cost
5. Economy and asymmetry in sensor load
6. Using parts bin of existing aircraft and from industry partners
7. Designed for high altitude, high speed f-pole BVR combat
8. Structure can operate in and sustain high G-forces
9. Artificial Intelligence
10. Network centric
11. Swarm & Group Tactics
12. Low Observable
13. Combat Air Patrol efficiency
14. Interceptor suitability
In the Grande Strategic view, PAF can use large numbers of J-UCAVs as a cheap and ideal counter for IAF and any other air force that seeks to undermine Pakistani airspace. They could form a picket line that are the first to deal with enemies and are reinforced with manned fighters where necessary. Such J-UCAVs would require very low maintenance, near zero training costs and may be cheap enough to not worry about being put outside hardened shelters, a valued commodity for PAF. Armed with 2 BVRs and 2 WVRs, J-UCAVs could prove to become the foot soldier of the skies, lightly armed and yet overwhelming in their numbers.
In Conclusion

UCAVs are an emerging technology that has the potential to revolutionize air warfare. While the 5th generation of combat planes is today the pinnacle of military aviation, UCAVs present paradigms that can supplement if not supplant manned fighters of the 4th and 5th generations. People who discuss a potential 6th generation inevitably mention unmanned aircraft as a likely salient. Unlike the 5th generation of aircraft that are extremely expensive and complex to build and maintain UCAVs provide the potential of finding an equivalent solution with significant reduction in complexity and cost.

The PAF has until now not considered UCAVs in the air-to-air role. With the systematic addition of net-centric warfare with platforms such as Erieye, ZDK03, ground radars, future planned communication satellite and the necessary middleware for a superior C4I, Pakistan has managed to transform the battle environment to one were UCAVS can multiply the effectiveness and flexibility of the entire air defense system.

While nations struggle to keep their 4th generation aircraft operational and can barely dream about 5th generation solutions, UCAVs provide an interesting paradigm shift that cannot be ignored by those entrusted with the defense of their nations and peoples. For some like Pakistan, UCAVs may be the only realistic way to counter a large number of PAKFAs and possibly other 5th generation planes sitting across the border in belligerent India, whose stalwarts dream about “cold starts” and “surgical strikes”, and are only kept at bay by the strength of arms and the courage of the Pakistani soldier; whether on land, in the depths of the seas, or up high over the towering mountains and skies above.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on Pakistan's efforts to develop combat drones:

Islamabad, which publicly condemns attacks by US drones on militants in tribal areas by the Afghan border, has built its own

Pakistan is on the cusp of joining an elite group of countries capable of manufacturing unmanned aircraft capable of killing as well as spying, a senior defence official has claims.
Publicly, Islamabad, which officially objects to lethal drone strikes carried out by the CIA along its border with Afghanistan, says it is only developing remote-controlled aircraft for surveillance purposes.
But last week, during a major arms fair held in Karachi, military officials briefed some of Pakistan's closest allies about efforts by the army to develop its own combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
"The foreign delegates were quite excited by what Pakistan has achieved," said the official, who was closely involved with organising the four-day International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (Ideas). "They were briefed about a UAV that can be armed and has the capability to carry a weapon payload."
The official said Pakistan wanted to demonstrate to friendly countries, principally Turkey and the Gulf, that it can be self-sufficient in a technology that is revolutionising warfare and which is currently dominated by a handful of countries that do not readily share the capability.
"It does not have the efficiency and performance as good as Predator," he said, referring to the US combat drone widely used to attack militant targets. "But it does exist."
He gave no details about the capabilities of the aircraft, or even its name.
Huw Williams, an expert on unmanned systems at Jane's Defence Weekly, expressed doubts that Pakistan could have succeeded in progressing very far from the "pretty basic" small reconnaissance drones, which the country publicly exhibited at the weapons show, including the Shahpar and Uqab aircraft developed by the state-owned consortium Global Industrial and Defence Solutions.
"The smaller systems are not greatly beyond that of a model aircraft," he said. "But the larger, long-endurance drones are a step up in technology across the board."
Only the US and Israel are currently believed to have drones that can fire missiles. China and Turkey are also working on large-scale combat drones.
Both countries exhibited models of drones at the sprawling Karachi conference centre, which included Pakistani companies marketing everything from guns that shoot around corners to inflatable tanks intended to fox surveillance aircraft.
The big claims about Pakistan's developing drone capacity highlights the enormous interest in the technology from armies around the world.
"Everyone has been asking us whether our drones can carry weapons," said Raja Sabri Khan, chief executive of Integrated Dynamics, a company that showed off a wide range of small and mid-size reconnaissance drones. "But that's a business for the big boys only."
Khan has been deliberately refocusing his company's efforts on smaller drones, many of which are launched by hand, which are mostly intended for civilian use.
A Pakistani army colonel attending the exhibition, after recently finishing a tour fighting against militants in the country's border region, said such small drones were a vital tool.
Organisers conceded that this year had not been a major commercial success but were pleased with the turnout after the last event in 2010 had to be cancelled.
Several exhibitors said Pakistani companies – many of which are directly owned by the country's military – offered a cheaper alternative to developing countries looking to buy everything from tanks to computer simulators used to train pilots.

Riaz Haq said...

Indigenous drone squadrons inducted in Pakistan Army and Air Force, reports Express Tribune:

The armed forces announced on Monday that they had inducted the very first fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the Army and the Air Force.
According to a release from the Inter-services Public Relations (ISPR) announced that the first fleet of strategic drones, ‘Burraq’ and ‘Shahpar’, had been inducted into the forces. Both of the drones were produced indigenously.
The military described the induction as a “landmark and historic event,” where a “very effective force multiplier has been added to the inventory of the armed forces.”
“In the future these UAVs could also be gainfully employed in various socio-economic development projects, as well,” it added, hinting at the possibility of using drones in non-combat settings and for civilian use.
The induction ceremony was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Director General Strategic Plans Division Lieutenant General (Retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, and senior officers from armed forces, scientists and engineers.
General Kayani, while appreciating the work of NESCOM scientists and engineers, highlighted that induction of indigenously developed surveillance capable UAVs in Pakistan Armed Forces is a force multiplier, and will substantially enhance their target acquisition capabilities in real time.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on Pakistan-made drones inducted today:

Pakistan’s military unveiled two domestically produced drones Monday, even as the country is facing growing protests over U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

After years of preparation, the Strategically Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were formally announced by Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan’s military. The drones, called Burraq and Shahpar, will not be armed and are to be used only for surveillance, military officials said.

The development of the drones, thought to have a range of about 75 miles, represents a milestone for the country’s military and scientists, Pakistani and Western analysts said.

“It is a landmark and a historic event, wherein a very effective force multiplier has been added to the inventory of the armed forces,” the Pakistani military said in a statement.

For years, Pakistan’s military has seen up-close the effectiveness of the U.S. drone campaign, which has included hundreds of strikes within the country’s borders. When the United States began using armed drones after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf asked President George W. Bush to supply drone technology to his country.

The United States declined, setting in motion Pakistan’s homegrown effort to develop the technology.

Pakistan’s military first revealed its drone technology at a trade show last year, but Monday’s formal unveiling coincides with an ongoing farewell tour by Kayani, who is retiring after two terms as army chief.

Brig. Muhammad Saad, a former senior officer in the Pakistani military familiar with the subject, said the country already had less-sophisticated drones for intelligence gathering, with a range of about six miles. The newer models, he said, will prove useful for the “collecting of more operational intelligence” that could help guide helicopter gunships and fighter jets to specific targets.

“This is a great achievement, and the drones can be used instead of surveillance jets and fighter jets that would be costlier” to fly, Saad said.

Saad and other observers said Pakistan is still years away from being able to develop armed drones. Still, Monday’s announcement is likely to unnerve Pakistan’s neighbors, including India and Afghanistan.

Peter W. Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution, said most surveillance drones can be armed, though they will lack the precision of U.S.-developed models.

“Almost any unmanned system can be armed in a crude style, such as dropping a bomb or even turning it into an equivalent of a cruise missile that you fly into the target,” said Singer, adding that the announcement will probably add to growing fears about proliferation of drone technology.

The Pakistani military’s announcement comes as the country is facing growing discontent in some parts over recent U.S. drone strikes, including an attack this month that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's DefenseNews on Pakistani drones Burraq and Shahpar:

Shahpar is a tactical canard pusher UAV that was developed by the Advance Engineering and Research Organisation, which is part of the state-owned Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS) conglomerate.

It was revealed to the public for the first time during IDEAS2012, Pakistan’s biannual defense exhibition, in November last year.

It was claimed to be an autonomous UAV with an endurance of seven hours and which could relay data in real time out to a range of 250 kilometers.

Observers have said the Burraq appears to be a Pakistani variant or development of the Chinese Rainbow CH-3 UCAV, but little else is known beyond speculation based on the CH-3’s specifications.

Former Pakistan Air Force pilot Kaiser Tufail said additional information will be difficult to obtain for now because sources will be “wary about leaking what is considered confidential stuff.”

Reports that Pakistan was developing an armed UAV named Burraq date back to 2009. Analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said he first became aware of the existence of the Burraq some years ago when it was still in the design stages with NESCOM.

The two may be related, but he believes Burraq is armed and Shahpar unarmed.

“Shahpar can carry about a 50-kilogram payload and has around eight hours endurance. Burraq, based on CH-3 specs, would carry around a 100-kilogram payload and 12 hours endurance,” he said.

The given payload of the CH-3 is a pair of AR-1 missiles, or a pair of FT-5 small diameter bombs.

The ability of Pakistan to field an armed UAV has great benefits when faced with time-sensitive targets, he said.

“It is important in a sense that it greatly cuts the gap from detection to shoot,” he said.

Adding, “Earlier, once you detected something and wanted it taken out you had to pass on the imagery to higher ups, who had to approve and allocate resources like aircraft and by the time the aircraft got there the bad guys were long gone. Now detect, make decision, shoot and go home — all in same loop.”

He does not believe there is any real significance in the systems being named for use with both the Army and the Air Force, however, as “both have been operating their own UAV squadrons for a while now.”

“The Army has been using German EMT Luna X-2000 and the British [Meggitt] Banshee UAVs, while PAF as we know has a lot of faith in the Italian [Selex] Falco,” he added.

The Luna was also ordered by the Pakistan Navy in June 2012.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Atlantic mag piece on more lethal US robotic military:

In the future, an Army brigade might have 3,000 human troops instead of 4,000, but a lot more robots, according to recent remarks by General Robert Cone, the Army's head of Training and Doctrine Command.

"I’ve got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of maneuverability, in terms of the future of the force," Defense News reported he said in a speech at the Army Aviation Symposium.

Continuing, he noted that the Army had devoted more resources to "force protection," keeping the troops safe, at the cost of some firepower. "I think we’ve also lost a lot in lethality," Cone said.

Robots could reduce the force protection burden, giving the Army more killing power per brigade.

Those robots could be a pack bot like the Legged Squad Support System perhaps, or a conventional-looking semi or fully autonomous vehicle like Lockheed Martin's Squad Mission Support System.

The lesson? If Google is doing it, DARPA is also doing it, but with more lethality.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan drones keep an eye on #India Army activities at the border …

New Delhi: Intelligence agencies have, in a classified note to the Centre, informed that both Pakistan Rangers and Army are deploying surveillance drones to snoop on Indian security forces along the borders in Kashmir and Rajasthan primarily with a view to monitor their patrolling activities and deployment pattern so that they can push through nearly 200 militants waiting at the launch pads in the region.

Senior intelligence officials said they had been receiving reports about drones in the border areas and further investigations revealed that this was being done primarily with a view to keep a watch on the movement of Indian security forces.

Interestingly, what has baffled security agencies is that surveillance is being mounted using drones even in the Rajasthan sector, which indicates that the Pak Rangers and Army may well try to push through subversive elements from this new route which can be a cause of concern. However, security agencies, sources added, had already taken preventive measures to plug any major infiltration attempts in the days ahead. The security establishment in New Delhi is taking these developments extremely seriously as with the onset of summer season the infiltration trend starts showing a sharp increase.

What is also significant is that the number of militants operating in the Valley is said to have dropped to the lowest ever since militancy broke out in the Valley more than two decades ago. In fact, some security experts estimate that the number of actual top “operation militants” in the Valley may only be 25.