The Pentagon plans to dramatically increase the surveillance capabilities of its most advanced unmanned aircraft next year, adding so many video feeds that a drone which now stares down at a single house or vehicle could keep constant watch on nearly everything that moves within an area of 1.5 square miles.
The year after that, the capability will double to 3 square miles.
Military officials predict that the impact on counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan will be impressive.
“Predators and other unmanned aircraft have just revolutionized our ability to provide a constant stare against our enemy,” said a senior military official. “The next sensors, mark my words, are going to be equally revolutionary.”
Unmanned MQ-9 Reaper aircraft now produce a single video feed as they fly continuously over surveillance routes, and the area they can cover largely depends on altitude. The new technology initially will increase the number of video feeds to 12 and eventually to 65.
Like the Reaper and its earlier counterpart, the Predator, the newest technology program has been given a fearsome name: the Gorgon Stare, named for the mythological creature whose gaze turns victims to stone.
Unmanned aircraft, used both for surveillance and for offensive strikes, are considered the most significant advance in military technology in a generation. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — This “advance” promotes and rests upon the core delusion of the modern era: that what can be seen is more real and more significant than what cannot be seen.
Yet consider how much inevitably eludes the “constant stare” of a drone: names, relationships, intentions, history — everything that transforms the gray shapes of human figures appearing on a drone controller’s monitor, into living breathing human beings. And here’s a prediction: one advance that’s unlikely to be made will be that these images are improved from black and white to color. In color, operatives would have to deal with the sight of blood.
And this leads to the other key dimension of high-tech killing: “The technology allows us to project power without vulnerability,” said a senior Defense official.
In other words, America’s most highly evolved warriors are able to kill without the slightest risk of being killed.
Callousness will soon be worth more to the Pentagon than courage.