Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Pakistani Drones in America
By Noah Shachtman
America's killer drones are getting all the attention, in the fight against Pakistani militants. But Pakistan's military has plenty of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, too. And they're being used to spy on suspected insurgents, and listen in on their phone calls.
Since 2002, Pakistan has dramatically expanded its robotic fleet in the sky, Defense News reports. The Pakistani Air Force has two UAV squadrons -- and is looking to build up to six.
"Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters use not just mobile and satellite phones for communication, but also sophisticated military radios," Defense News notes. So companies like East West Infiniti are building SIGINT [signals intelligence] for small drones and robotic blimps, to capture those conversations. Designed for militaries unable to afford high-end, dedicated SIGINT platforms, East West's Whisper Watch system can detect and monitor electronic emissions up to 250 kilometers away and then retransmit to a ground station located out of harms way.
Karachi-based Integrated Dynamics actually exports its Border Eagle surveillance drone to the United States for border patrol duties. The company also makes drones 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," Defense News says.
Note: Pakistani UAV gear were on display in November, at IDEAS, Pakistan's big military trade show.
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