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TBR News January 13, 2020

Jan 13 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. January 13, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose
Commentary for January 13: “There is,we hear, new evidence against Trump that the House people are planning to surprise the Republicans in the Senate with. There have been rumors of this floating around for some time and the Republicans are frantic to keep it from the public view. I do not know what it is or I would comment on it but given Trump’s totally corrupt and dishonest nature, nothing would surprise me. He has laundered Russian drug money, cheated on his income tax, swindled his business partners and on and on. And on the international scene, the professionals, at least the ones who have not resigned in disgust, are terrified that Trump will start a war somewhere so he can have something to laugh about. Interesting times indeed. And he hopes, if things go against him any further, that the pin-headed red hats will grab their AK47s and rush to his defense. He sees a new Civil War with himself cast as Abraham Lincoln. To misquote an old Civil War song…’He is gone and soon forgotten/ There will be one vacant chair…’”

The Table of Contents

• The only winner of the US-Iran showdown is Russia
• As we enter the fourth year of the Trump era, let’s remember: this is still not normal
• Why instinct and ideology tell Trump to get out of the Middle East
• Pelosi says Republicans will pay price for denying impeachment witnesses
• Drones
• Counter-drone technologies are evolving to “counter” countermeasures
• The Season of Evil


The only winner of the US-Iran showdown is Russia
The heightened tensions between the United States and Iran over the killing of Qassem Soleimani offer Russia another opportunity to increase its influence in the Middle East
January 9, 2020
by Strobe Talbott and Maggie Tennis.
The Brookings Institute
Hours before Iran launched a missile attack on U.S. troops in Iraq,
Vladimir Putin visited Syria to huddle with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad over the mounting U.S.-Iran crisis. Russia has repeatedly condemned the U.S. airstrikes that killed Iranian Major Gen. Qassem Soleimani. It’s fair to assume that leaders in Moscow are seeking to turn the situation to their advantage.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have deteriorated since the onset of the Syrian conflict and even more so since President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. At the same time, Russia and Iran have grown closer through military cooperation in Syria. Moscow’s expanding influence in Syria suggests that a conflict between the United States and Iran could advance Russia’s power and reputation in the region. At the very least, Russia will be able to paint the United States as an erratic aggressor, leading regional actors and international allies to question cooperation with Washington.
Russia has helped the Assad regime maintain control in Syria, even as the U.S. and its NATO allies demanded Assad’s ouster. As the U.S. pulls back from Syria, Assad and Russia remain in control. Russia’s backing of Assad began as a quest to undermine U.S. interests and gain influence in the Middle East. More than four years later, Russia’s triumphs from that conflict include drawing Turkey away from its NATO allies, building a reputation as a valuable foreign backer, and emerging as a kingmaker—all at the expense of the United States.
Poorly reasoned U.S. foreign policy decisions, such as, most recently, abandoning Kurdish partners in Syria, helped create a power vacuum that Russia has stepped in to fill. Friday’s strikes — and every Trump administration action taken since — will likely improve Russia’s position in Syria and the broader region. Iraq’s government is outraged by what it views as a U.S. violation of its sovereignty, with the Iraqi prime minister calling the strike a “flagrant violation of the conditions authorizing the presence of U.S. troops.” Iraq could soon expel U.S. forces from the country in response. With no troops in Iraq, the United States will find it hard to sustain a presence in Syria. That void would create more maneuverability for Moscow in the region — essentially, cementing its position as a regional power broker.
Beyond strengthening Russia’s position, the Soleimani strike contributes to Russia’s goals of driving a wedge between Washington and its partners and advancing global perceptions of the United States as volatile and belligerent. Moscow has already succeeded in undermining U.S. relations with Middle Eastern allies. The prime example is Turkey: Although Russia and Turkey were on opposite sides of the conflict in Syria, they now jointly control operations in the north of the country after a remarkable
October 22 agreement between Washington and Ankara to establish a “Syria Safe Zone” and the withdrawal of U.S. troops. In reaction to Soleimani’s death, Turkey released a statement that it opposes “foreign interventions, assassinations and sectarian conflicts in the region.”
Moscow could also benefit if the U.S. strikes create more disunity between Washington and its European allies. Numerous U.S. decisions in the Middle East have frustrated allies, particularly its withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Reports suggest that the Trump administration even failed to warn Britain and other allies ahead of the strikes on Soleimani. If Washington does not heed its allies’ calls for immediate de-escalation, the United States could find itself further isolated on the world stage.
Washington could incur additional damage to its relationships with European allies if Iran now hastens its pursuit of a nuclear weapon as a result of the strikes. Iran announced Sunday it would stop obeying
all restrictions imposed by the Iran deal on its nuclear activities. Russia has been a vocal critic of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the deal and instead mount a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. In fact, Moscow’s position has placed it on the same side as European powers like France and Germany opposing the U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions. Russia has worked with France and Germany to sidestep U.S. sanctions to keep Iran in the deal. Consequently, Russia is ideally situated to emphasize its efforts to maintain the agreement and blame Washington for pushing Iran toward a nuclear bomb.
Of course, there are major downsides for Russia from a U.S.-Iran conflict in the Middle East. A proxy conflict could stress Russian forces in Syria, especially if Israel escalates its strikes against Iranian-backed groups like Hezbollah, which vowed to revenge Soleimani’s death. Furthermore, any Iranian progress toward nuclear breakout surely would destabilize the region, complicating Russia’s ability to control the situation in Syria. Finally, if Russia cooperates too closely with Iran, it will attract criticism from other Middle Eastern partners.
For a while it seemed that Trump was trying to fulfill his campaign promise of a reduced U.S. presence in the Middle East. Now, it seems as if he’s trying to draw the country into another prolonged quagmire — whether as a distraction from impeachment proceedings or to force Iran to the negotiating table, it is too early to tell.
Russia, on the other hand, is left with the enviable position of capitalizing on the turbulent behavior of the United States in the Middle East, regardless of whether the United States and Iran go to war. Ultimately, U.S. actions will strengthen Russian leadership: first, by removing American competition, and second, by turning regional and global sentiment against the United States. Provided Moscow continues cooperating with all regional states and maintains stability in Syrian territory where Russian forces are present, Russia stands a good chance of supplanting U.S. influence in the Middle East — no matter what happens next.

As we enter the fourth year of the Trump era, let’s remember: this is still not normal
Trump hopes that his dangerous, self-serving actions will be normalized by sheer force and volume. We must push back
January 13, 2020
by Michael H Fuchs
The Guardian
After three years of dangerously and unnecessarily escalating tensions with Iran, Donald Trump rang in the new year by creating a crisis that almost started a war with Iran – and still very well could.
As we enter the fourth year of Trump’s presidency, it is more necessary than ever to remind ourselves daily: this is not normal.
The list of despicable domestic actions by Trump that must not be normalized is long – from the policy separating migrant children from their parents and detaining them in cages to the president’s call for his critics to be investigated or jailed.
And while Trump’s foreign policy in 2017 and 2018 was shocking – including regular praise for dictators Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un, for instance – 2019 was the year that Congress and the American people finally had enough. The Ukraine scandal made crystal clear Trump’s unprecedented and dangerous assault on national security norms and led to his impeachment. But the extortion of Ukraine for personal gain was far from the only national security norm that Trump attacked in 2019.
In 2019, Robert Mueller’s report outlined in extensive detail how Trump’s 2016 campaign asked for and received Russia’s help in attacking his campaign opponent. While the story of Trump’s collusion with Russia has gone on so long that it can sometimes seem to have faded into the background of the national consciousness, the 448-page Mueller report should be treated every day like the bombshell it is – the story of how Trump worked with a foreign power to win an election.
In 2019, the American people also learned that Trump’s attempts to get foreign help to further his political interests extend beyond Russia. In addition to Ukraine, Trump also asked China to help smear his political rival.
In 2019, Trump also attempted to circumvent Congress to fund his border wall by taking money from the military and sending US troops – who are not supposed to be deployed on US soil – to the border.
In 2019, Trump’s administration formally began the process to remove the US from the Paris climate agreement. Unless we get our act together, humanity will look back on America’s withdrawal from this global effort as unforgivable. This is not normal: while climate is too often treated in Washington like a policy disagreement, Trump’s actions must be seen for the shocking disregard of reality that they reflect. One of the president’s top priorities should be tackling the existential threat of climate change, not denying its existence and adopting policies that will make it worse.
In 2019, in both Afghanistan and Syria, off-the-cuff interventions by Trump shattered delicate, hard-fought progress and undermined national security. In the 18th year of America’s war in Afghanistan, and after months of talks, the president blew up a potential deal with the Taliban in a moment of haste. And in Syria, after years of American troops fighting side by side with Kurdish partners against Isis, Trump gave the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the green light attack the Kurds as American forces abandoned them.
And while it almost seems like a joke, in 2019 the president of the United States cancelled a trip to visit a US treaty ally – Denmark – because the country would not sell him Greenland.
Trump also continued to attack people because of their race, ethnicity and religion in ways that erode the very model of America as a welcoming, tolerant and diverse society. He told members of Congress (who of course are Americans) to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. He repeatedly accused people of being antisemitic and questioned their national loyalties because they do not blindly support the dangerous policies of the Israeli government. And he encouraged the Israeli government to prevent two members of Congress from visiting Israel. The list goes on.
None of this is normal. These actions go far beyond policy disagreements. They are not only disturbing and unbecoming the office of the president – they undermine the democratic values America embodies, and damage America’s national security.
Trump hopes that his offensive and dangerous actions are normalized by the sheer force and volume of them. He obfuscates, gaslights and lies – in his three years in office has made more than 15,000 false or misleading claims, according to the Washington Post.
As 2020 begins and Trump teeters on the edge of starting a war with Iran, it is a stark reminder that America no longer knows what it’s like not to be at war – roughly a quarter of Americans have only been alive while America has been fighting a war. This should not be normal – but sadly America has already begun to treat it like it is.
We may not be able to dedicate the same level of outrage or oversight to every single one of Trump’s despicable actions. But we cannot allow them to be seen as normal, and we must push back on them all.

Why instinct and ideology tell Trump to get out of the Middle East
The Suleimani crisis is unlikely to deflect the president from his long-term goal. What would be the consequences for the region of an American exit?
January 11, 2020
by Simon Tisdall
The Guardian
The crisis triggered by Donald Trump’s assassination of General Qassem Suleimani has crystallised Iran’s official thinking around a single, overriding demand: that American military forces should pack up their weapons, close their bases, and leave the Middle East for ever. The odd thing is, Trump seems to agree.
Referring to last week’s retaliatory strikes on US targets, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s leader, declared: “Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America.” Hassan Rouhani, the country’s president, said the only answer was to “kick all US forces out of the region”.
This long-held Iranian position does not differ greatly from Trump’s views, at least in theory. The US president has repeatedly argued in favour of reducing the American troop presence around the Middle East. In northern Syria last autumn, he got his way – with chaotic results that dismayed allies and delighted Turkey, Russia and the Syrian regime.
Trump has never proposed an across-the-board retreat. In Israel’s case, he has sought closer political and security ties. He has cosied up to the wealthy Saudi royals. Yet, judging by his speeches and tweets, Trump is unconvinced by traditional arguments that stress the region’s vital strategic importance to the US.
His attitude is part ideological, part gut. When Trump vowed in 2016 to end America’s “forever wars” in his presidential campaign, he was specifically referring to the Bush-Obama legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump has dismissed both occupations as misconceived, and a waste of lives and tax dollars. For him, liberal, Tony Blair-type ideas about the international community as a collective, the imperative of “humanitarian intervention”, and nation-building are an anathema.
Trump is interested in markets, not morality. He holds no vision of the greater good, has no sense of a US global mission, other than putting America first. Speaking last week about a hypothetical rapprochement with Iran, his businessman’s focus was on its untapped economic potential and natural resources.
There are other reasons, on the American side, for asking how long the US will continue to maintain a military presence that includes extensive bases and facilities in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Afghanistan. One reason, mentioned by Trump last week, is that the present-day US is much less reliant on imported oil.
The so-called Carter doctrine, announced by president Jimmy Carter after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, declared the region (and its oil) to be a de facto US protectorate. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the US … and will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force,” Carter declared.
In effect, Carter was completing America’s post-1945, post-Suez takeover from Britain as the Middle East’s leading external power – and as time passed, its footprint grew. But now times are changing again. Thanks to the shale oil boom, the US has become the world’s leading producer of crude oil. Middle East supply-lines no longer matter so much.
Geopolitical priorities are shifting, too. The US is more focused nowadays on China as an economic and military rival, and on defending its interests across the Asia-Pacific region, than on curbing Russian influence or fixing the Middle East. Trump believes his allies in the region, like Nato’s European members, should be more self-reliant – and is happy to sell them expensive US weaponry to that end.
The US certainly worries about Iran’s behaviour and jihadist terrorism. Trump craves the kudos of brokering a peace deal in Palestine. But Beijing’s military expansionism, its belt and road “debt diplomacy”, open trade lanes in the South China Sea, and democracy in Taiwan and Hong Kong are Washington’s bigger, long-term concerns.
On the Iranian side, the demand that the Americans leave does not arise simply from old grievances dating back to the 1953 coup against the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, although they play a part. Nor does Iran merely want the US out of the way so it can gain a free hand – although it is unlikely to abandon its ambitions as a regional power-broker.
There is a firm belief in Tehran, common to other post-colonial theatres, that the Middle East as a whole would fare better if it were no longer a venue for great power rivalries, foreign armies and imperial fantasies. Most educated Iranians are instinctively pro-western, not pro-Arab. But the post-1979 US vendetta blocks normalisation.
There is also reason to believe antagonistic regional states might more readily resolve their differences if they no longer had the US to fall back on, or to blame, when they get into disputes. As Trump’s commitment to regional security appeared to wane last year, for example, Saudi Arabia and Qatar took steps to patch up their differences.
Shared security concerns have led to ongoing, informal contacts between Arab states and Israel, notwithstanding – or possibly because of – Trump’s bias against Palestine.
If the US is no longer seen as a reliable defender of its friends, and if it no longer needs or wants to be in the Middle East – then surely it is time to leave. Yet if the Americans did pull out, what would happen?
1. Iraq and Syria
Recent events in Iraq and Syria do not encourage confidence in a post-American future. After the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, the US and its Gulf allies backed disparate rebel forces. But some of these groups harboured jihadists and extremists, which bolstered Bashar al-Assad’s claims to be fighting terrorists and divided the resistance.
The US withdrew its support for the rebels. It also declined to intervene directly when Barack Obama’s “red line” on chemical weapons use was crossed. Trump has since hastened American disengagement, notably by abandoning Syrian Kurd allies. Russia filled the vacuum, and is now winning the war for Assad with a merciless bombardment of Idlib.
Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, US forces officially left in 2011, but in fact several thousand remain, primarily tasked with fighting Isis. Following the Suleimani killing, Iraq’s parliament demanded all US troops leave. But there are signs of second thoughts, amid doubts over the ability of Iraq’s politicians and security forces to hold a divided country together while containing Isis. Syria is a chilling reminder of what can happen when the US turns its back and walks away.
2 Israel
A wholesale US military pull-back would be a traumatic experience for Israel, and one it would try to avoid. The Jewish state has been surrounded by enemies since its conception. Although proudly self-reliant in defence, a symbolic weakening of America’s protective shield would be a blow that could encourage the country’s foes.
For these and other reasons, any US regional troop drawdown would almost certainly be accompanied by additional American security guarantees for Israel, possibly including a mutual defence treaty as recently proposed by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel’s supporters in Congress would ensure the country was not abandoned.
At the same time, such a shift could force a much-needed reset for Israel’s political stalemate, undermining the Trump-backed, nationalist hard-right – typified by Netanyahu – and opening the way for a centrist coalition more prepared, for example, to cut an equitable two-state deal with the Palestinians.
3 Afghanistan
The seemingly endless conflict in Afghanistan, which began with the US invasion after the al-Qaida attacks in September 2001, has been a particular bugbear of Trump’s. He says, not without reason, that billions of dollars have been wasted on a chaotic and often corrupt nation-building exercise that has failed to bring security or effective democratic government and caused record levels of civilian casualties.
Trump began in 2017 by sending additional troops, like Obama before him. When that did not work, he resorted to secret negotiations with the Taliban that led to an aborted peace summit at Camp David. The basic problem was familiar: the Taliban insisted US troops must agree to leave before they would accept a ceasefire or talk to the Afghan government.
Since the Taliban are unlikely to relent, Trump or his successor will probably be forced eventually to order a withdrawal, even if it leads to a fundamentalist takeover. The problem, in such a case, is that many of the gains made by Afghans will be lost, and their sacrifices over nearly 20 years worth nought.
4 Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states
The shock of large-scale US downsizing would be felt most keenly here. The modern-day prosperity and influence of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait have been underwritten by American security guarantees, exemplified by the 1990-91 US-led intervention to expel Saddam Hussein’s invasion forces from Kuwait.
Without the Americans to hold their hands and watch their backs, the Saudi royals’ behaviour could improve significantly. No more kidnappings of Lebanese prime ministers, for example, or murders of high-profile journalists. Military adventurism of the type that produced the humanitarian disaster in Yemen would be less likely.
The Saudis and the smaller Gulf states, although better armed than Iran, might also be incentivised by American disengagement to take a more conciliatory line towards Tehran – something that has reportedly already been happening in recent months.
On the other hand, they might look around for new protectors – in the shape of Russia or China, a big Gulf oil customer. No US president could easily countenance such a loss of influence – nor the loss of lucrative Arab world investments and weapons sales. Getting out is not as simple as Trump might think.
5 Terrorism and anti-Americanism
A reduction in the US regional profile could be expected, over time, to bring reductions in anti-Americanism and the targeting of American and allied interests by terrorists who regard the US presence as an affront to the entire Islamic world. A key source of tension with the west might be removed.
On the other hand, any loss of US leadership in fighting Isis and successors would be serious. Nato might step into the breach, as Trump last week suggested it should. Regional organisations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the EU could invest more in security, shared defence and intelligence capabilities – which might be no bad thing.
A lowered profile might also reduce tensions with Turkey which, although nominally an ally, has grown impatient with an “arrogant” America. And it could force dictatorships such as Egypt’s, underwritten by Washington, to change their ways – to the undoubted benefit of all the peoples of the Middle East.
Quite how this imagined loss of control, this demotion from hegemon to the status of ordinary country, this ending of the era of American exceptionalism might affect the US itself is an intriguing question. Coming down in the world is a hard thing to stomach. Seventy years on, Britain has still not recovered from its loss of empire. Could America’s self-image cope with such a relegation? Could Trump?

Pelosi says Republicans will pay price for denying impeachment witnesses
January 12, 2020
by David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats will determine on Tuesday when to send formal impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to the Senate and warned that Republicans will pay a political price for denying a trial with witnesses.
Pelosi, speaking on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program, said her caucus at a regular meeting on Tuesday morning would vote on the timing of sending articles of impeachment to the Senate and naming trial managers in the House.
“I have always said I would send them over. So there shouldn’t be any mystery to that,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi has delayed delivery of the charges for weeks to compel Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to agree to include new witness testimony and evidence about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democrat running for the nomination to face Trump in the November election.
Her gambit appeared to fail as McConnell slammed the door on that idea last week, saying he had enough Republican votes to start the trial without a commitment to hear from additional witnesses, including former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.
Bolton has said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.
Pelosi insisted her delay helped make American voters aware of the need for a “fair trial” with witness testimony and evidence. If McConnell continues to block such proceedings, Republicans would pay a political price.
“I think that he will be accountable to the American people for that,” Pelosi said.
The Senate, where Trump’s Republican party holds a majority, is widely expected to acquit Trump of the charges, as no Republicans have voiced support for ousting him, a step that would require a two-thirds majority.
Nonetheless, Democrats want a longer trial that turns up more information about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open a Biden probe, including a July 25 phone call between the leaders. As the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign heats up, they believe this will turn some voters against Trump.
The Democratic-controlled House, in a party-line vote, impeached Trump on Dec. 18 on charges of abusing power and obstructing Congress. Trump says he did nothing wrong and has dismissed his impeachment as a partisan bid to undo his 2016 election win.
Trump sent several tweets on Sunday criticizing Pelosi and the Democratic-led impeachment effort.
“This phony Impeachment Hoax should not even be allowed to proceed. Did NOTHING wrong. Just a partisan vote. Zero Republicans. Never happened before!” Trump said on Twitter.
Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Mary Milliken and Bill Berkrot

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Its flight is either controlled autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a navigator, or pilot (in military UAVs called a Combat Systems Officer on UCAVs) on the ground or in another vehicle.
There are a wide variety of drone shapes, sizes, configurations, and characteristics. Historically, UAVs were simple remotely piloted aircraft, but autonomous control is increasingly being employed.
Their largest use is within military applications. UAVs are also used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as firefighting or nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too “dull, dirty, or dangerous” for manned aircraft.
The earliest attempt at a powered unmanned aerial vehicle was A. M. Low’s “Aerial Target” of 1916.Nikola Tesla described a fleet of unmanned aerial combat vehicles in 1915. A number of remote-controlled airplane advances followed, including the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, during and after World War I, including the first scale RPV (Remote Piloted Vehicle), developed by the film star and model airplane enthusiast Reginald Denny in 1935. More were made in the technology rush during World War II; these were used both to train antiaircraft gunners and to fly attack missions. Nazi Germany also produced and used various UAV aircraft during the course of WWII. Jet engines were applied after World War II, in such types as the Teledyne Ryan Firebee I of 1951, while companies like Beechcraft also got in the game with their Model 1001 for the United States Navy in 1955. Nevertheless, they were little more than remote-controlled airplanes until the Vietnam Era.
The birth of U.S. UAVs (called RPVs at the time) began in 1959 when United States Air Force (USAF) officers, concerned about losing pilots over hostile territory, began planning for the use of unmanned flights. This plan became intensified when Francis Gary Powers and his “secret” U-2 were shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960. Within days, the highly classified UAV program was launched under the code name of “Red Wagon.” The August 2 and August 4, 1964, clash in the Tonkin Gulf between naval units of the U.S. and North Vietnamese Navy initiated America’s highly classified UAVs into their first combat missions of the Vietnam War. When the “Red Chinese” showed photographs of downed U.S. UAVs via Wide World Photos, the official U.S. response was, “no comment.”
Only on February 26, 1973, during testimony before the United States House Committee on Appropriations, did the U.S. military officially confirm that they had been utilizing UAVs in Southeast Asia (Vietnam). While over 5,000 U.S. airmen had been killed and over 1,000 more were either missing in action (MIA), or captured (prisoners of war/POW); the USAF 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing had flown approximately 3,435 UAV missions during the war, at a cost of about 554 UAVs lost to all causes. In the words of USAF General George S. Brown, Commander, Air Force Systems Command in 1972, “The only reason we need (UAVs) is that we don’t want to needlessly expend the man in the cockpit.” Later that same year, General John C. Meyer, Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command, stated, “we let the drone do the high-risk flying … the loss rate is high, but we are willing to risk more of them … they save lives!”
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syrian missile batteries in Lebanon caused heavy damage to Israeli fighter jets. As a result, Israel developed the first modern UAV. Israel pioneered the use of UAVs for real-time surveillance, electronic warfare and decoys.The images and radar decoying provided by these UAVs helped Israel to completely neutralize the Syrian air defenses at the start of the 1982 Lebanon War, resulting in no pilots downed.
With the maturing and miniaturization of applicable technologies as seen in the 1980s and 1990s, interest in UAVs grew within the higher echelons of the U.S. military. In the 90s the U.S. Department of Defense gave a contract to US corporation AAI Corporation of Maryland along with Israeli company Mazlat. The US Navy bought the AAI Pioneer UAV that was jointly developed by American AAI Corporation and Israeli Mazlat, this type of drone is still in use. Many of these Pioneer and newly developed U.S. UAVs were used in the 1991 Gulf War. UAVs were seen to offer the possibility of cheaper, more capable fighting machines that could be used without risk to aircrews. UAVs were seen to offer the possibility of cheaper, more capable fighting machines that could be used without risk to aircrews. Initial generations were primarily surveillance aircraft, but some were armed (such as the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, which utilized AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles). An armed UAV is known as an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).
As a tool for search and rescue, UAVs can help find humans lost in the wilderness, trapped in collapsed buildings, or adrift at sea.
FAA designation
In the United States, the United States Navy and shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration has adopted the name unmanned aircraft (UA) to describe aircraft systems without the flight crew on board. More common names include: UAV, drone, remotely piloted vehicle (RPV), remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), remotely operated aircraft (ROA), and for those “limited-size” (as defined by the FAI) unmanned aircraft flown in the USA’s National Airspace System, flown solely for recreation and sport purposes such as models and radio control (R/Cs), which are generally flown under the voluntary safety standards of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the United States’ national aeromodeling organization. To operate a UA for non-recreational purposes in the United States, users must obtain a Certificate of Authorization (CoA) to operate in national airspace At the moment, COAs require a public entity as a sponsor. For example, when BP needed to observe oil spills, they operated the Aeryon Scout UAV under a COA granted to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. COAs have been granted for both land and shipborne operations.
The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) emphasizes the importance of other elements beyond an aircraft itself. A typical UAS consists of the:
• unmanned aircraft (UA)
• control system, such as Ground Control Station (GCS)
• control link, a specialized datalink
• other related support equipment.
For example, the RQ-7 Shadow UAS consists of four UAs, two GCSes, one portable GCS, one Launcher, two Ground Data Terminals (GDTs), one portable GDT, and one Remote Video Terminal. Certain military units are also fielded with a maintenance support vehicle.
Because of this systemic approach UAS have been not included in the United States Munitions List Category VIII – Aircraft and Associated Equipment. Vice versa, the “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems” are clearly mentioned at paragraph 121-16 Missile Technology Control Regime Annex of the United States Munitions List. More precisely, the Missile Technology Control Regime Annex levels rocket and unmanned aerial vehicle systems together.
The term UAS was since adopted by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The term used previously for unmanned aircraft system was unmanned-aircraft vehicle system (UAVS).
UAVs typically fall into one of six functional categories (although multi-role airframe platforms are becoming more prevalent):
• Target and decoy – providing ground and aerial gunnery a target that simulates an enemy aircraft or missile
• Reconnaissance – providing battlefield intelligence
• Combat – providing attack capability for high-risk missions (see Unmanned combat air vehicle)
• Logistics – UAVs specifically designed for cargo and logistics operation
• Research and development – used to further develop UAV technologies to be integrated into field deployed UAV aircraft
• Civil and Commercial UAVs – UAVs specifically designed for civil and commercial applications
They can also be categorised in terms of range/altitude and the following has been advanced as relevant at such industry events as ParcAberporth Unmanned Systems forum:
• Handheld 2,000 ft (600 m) altitude, about 2 km range
• Close 5,000 ft (1,500 m) altitude, up to 10 km range
• NATO type 10,000 ft (3,000 m) altitude, up to 50 km range
• Tactical 18,000 ft (5,500 m) altitude, about 160 km range
• MALE (medium altitude, long endurance) up to 30,000 ft (9,000 m) and range over 200 km
• HALE (high altitude, long endurance) over 30,000 ft (9,100 m) and indefinite range
• HYPERSONIC high-speed, supersonic (Mach 1–5) or hypersonic (Mach 5+) 50,000 ft (15,200 m) or suborbital altitude, range over 200 km
• ORBITAL low earth orbit (Mach 25+)
• CIS Lunar Earth-Moon transfer
• CACGS Computer Assisted Carrier Guidance System for UAVs
The United States military employs a tier system for categorizing its UAVs.
Classifications by the United States military
The modern concept of U.S. military UAVs is to have the various aircraft systems work together in support of personnel on the ground. The integration scheme is described in terms of a “Tier” system, and is used by military planners to designate the various individual aircraft elements in an overall usage plan for integrated operations. The Tiers do not refer to specific models of aircraft, but rather roles for which various models and their manufacturers competed. The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps each has its own tier system, and the two systems are themselves not integrated.
US Air Force tiers
• Tier N/A: Small/Micro UAV. Role filled by BATMAV (Wasp Block III).
• Tier I: Low altitude, long endurance. Role filled by the Gnat 750.
• Tier II: Medium altitude, long endurance (MALE). Role currently filled by the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.
• Tier II+: High altitude, long endurance conventional UAV (or HALE UAV). Altitude: 60,000 to 65,000 feet (19,800 m), less than 300 knots (560 km/h) airspeed, 3,000-nautical-mile (6,000 km) radius, 24 hour time-on-station capability. Complementary to the Tier III- aircraft. Role currently filled by the RQ-4 Global Hawk.
• Tier III-: High altitude, long endurance low-observable UAV. Same parameters as, and complementary to, the Tier II+ aircraft. The RQ-3 DarkStar was originally intended to fulfill this role before it was “terminated.” Role now filled by RQ-170 Sentinel.
US Marine Corps tiers
• Tier N/A: Micro UAV. Wasp III fills this role, driven largely by the desire for commonality with the USAF BATMAV.
• Tier I: Role currently filled by the Dragon Eye but all ongoing and future procurement for the Dragon Eye program is going now to the RQ-11B Raven B.
• Tier II: Role currently filled by the ScanEagle.
• Tier III: For two decades, the role of medium range tactical UAV was filled by the Pioneer UAV. In July 2007, the Marine Corps announced its intention to retire the aging Pioneer fleet and transition to the RQ-7 Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System by AAI Corporation. The first Marine Shadow systems have already been delivered, and training for their respective Marine Corps units is underway.
US Army tiers
• Tier I: Small UAV. Role filled by the RQ-11B Raven.
• Tier II: Short Range Tactical UAV. Role filled by the RQ-7B Shadow 200.
• Tier III: Medium Range Tactical UAV. Role currently filled by the MQ-5A/B Hunter and IGNAT/IGNAT-ER, but transitioning to the Extended Range Multi-Purpose (ERMP) MQ-1C Gray Eagle.
Future Combat Systems (FCS) (US Army) classes
• Class I: For small units. Role to be filled by all new UAV with some similarity to micro air vehicle.
• Class II: For companies (cancelled).
• Class III: For battalions (cancelled).
• Class IV: For brigades. Role to be filled by the RQ-8A/B / MQ-8B Fire Scout.
Unmanned aircraft system
UAS, or unmanned aircraft system, is the official United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) term for an unmanned aerial vehicle. Initially coined by the FAA in 2004 to reflect the fact that these complex systems include ground stations and other elements besides the actual aircraft, the term was first officially used by the FAA in early 2005 and subsequently adopted by DoD that same year in their Unmanned Aircraft System Roadmap 2005–2030. Many people have mistakenly used the term Unmanned Aerial System, or Unmanned Air Vehicle System, as these designations were in provisional use at one time or another. The inclusion of the term aircraft emphasizes that regardless of the location of the pilot and flightcrew, the operations must comply with the same regulations and procedures as do those aircraft with the pilot and flightcrew on board. The official acronym ‘UAS’ is also used by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other government aviation regulatory organizations.
The military role of unmanned aircraft systems is growing at unprecedented rates. In 2005, tactical- and theater-level unmanned aircraft alone had flown over 100,000 flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which they are organized under Task Force Liberty in Afghanistan and Task Force ODIN in Iraq. Rapid advances in technology are enabling more and more capability to be placed on smaller airframes which is spurring a large increase in the number of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) being deployed on the battlefield. The use of SUAS in combat is so new that no formal DoD wide reporting procedures have been established to track SUAS flight hours. As the capabilities grow for all types of UAS, nations continue to subsidize their research and development leading to further advances enabling them to perform a multitude of missions. UAS no longer only perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, although this still remains their predominant type. Their roles have expanded to areas including electronic attack, strike missions, suppression and/or destruction of enemy air defense, network node or communications relay, combat search and rescue, and derivations of these themes. These UAS range in cost from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars, with aircraft ranging from less than one pound to over 40,000 pounds.
When the Obama administration announced in December 2009 the deployment of 30,000 new troops in Afghanistan, there was already an increase of attacks by pilotless Predator drones against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas, of which one probably killed a key member of Al Qaeda. However, neither Osama bin Laden nor Ayman al-Zawahiri was the likely target, according to reports. According to a report of the New America Foundation, armed drone strikes had dramatically increased under President Obama – even before his deployment decision. There were 43 such attacks between January and October 2009. The report draws on what it deems to be “credible” local and national media stories about the attacks. That compared with a total of 34 in all of 2008, President Bush’s last full year in office. Since 2006, drone-launched missiles allegedly had killed between 750 and 1,000 people in Pakistan, according to the report. Of these, about 20 people were said to be leaders of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and associated groups. Overall, 66% to 68% of the people killed were militants, and 31% to 33% were civilians. US officials disputed the percentage for civilians. The U.S. Air Force has recently begun referring at least to larger UAS like Predator, Reaper, and Global Hawk as Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), to highlight the fact that these systems are always controlled by a human operator at some location.
To distinguish UAVs from missiles, a UAV is defined as a “powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload”. Therefore, cruise missiles are not considered UAVs, because, like many other guided missiles, the vehicle itself is a weapon that is not reused, even though it is also unmanned and in some cases remotely guided.
Israel Aerospace Industries.
UAVs perform a wide variety of functions. The majority of these functions are some form of remote sensing; this is central to the reconnaissance role most UAVs fulfill. Less common UAV functions include interaction and transport.
Remote sensing
UAV remote sensing functions include electromagnetic spectrum sensors, gamma ray sensors, biological sensors, and chemical sensors. A UAV’s electromagnetic sensors typically include visual spectrum, infrared, or near infrared cameras as well as radar systems. Other electromagnetic wave detectors such as microwave and ultraviolet spectrum sensors may also be used, but are uncommon. Biological sensors are sensors capable of detecting the airborne presence of various microorganisms and other biological factors. Chemical sensors use laser spectroscopy to analyze the concentrations of each element in the air.
Commercial aerial surveillance
Aerial surveillance of large areas is made possible with low cost UAV systems. Surveillance applications include: livestock monitoring, wildfire mapping, pipeline security, home security, road patrol and anti-piracy. The trend for use of UAV technology in commercial aerial surveillance is expanding rapidly.
Oil, gas and mineral exploration and production
UAVs can be used to perform geophysical surveys, in particular geomagnetic surveys where the processed measurements of the differential Earth’s magnetic field strength are used to calculate the nature of the underlying magnetic rock structure. A knowledge of the underlying rock structure helps trained geophysicists to predict the location of mineral deposits. The production side of oil and gas exploration and production entails the monitoring of the integrity of oil and gas pipelines and related installations. For above-ground pipelines, this monitoring activity could be performed using digital cameras mounted on one, or more, UAVs. The InView Unmanned Aircraft System is an example of a UAV developed for use in oil, gas and mineral exploration and production activities.
UAVs can transport goods using various means based on the configuration of the UAV itself. Most payloads are stored in an internal payload bay somewhere in the airframe. For many helicopter configurations, external payloads can be tethered to the bottom of the airframe. With fixed wing UAVs, payloads can also be attached to the airframe, but aerodynamics of the aircraft with the payload must be assessed. For such situations, payloads are often enclosed in aerodynamic pods for transport.
Scientific research
Unmanned aircraft are uniquely capable of penetrating areas which may be too dangerous for piloted craft. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began utilizing the Aerosonde unmanned aircraft system in 2006 as a hurricane hunter. AAI Corporation subsidiary Aerosonde Pty Ltd. of Victoria (Australia), designs and manufactures the 35-pound system, which can fly into a hurricane and communicate near-real-time data directly to the National Hurricane Center in Florida. Beyond the standard barometric pressure and temperature data typically culled from manned hurricane hunters, the Aerosonde system provides measurements far closer to the water’s surface than previously captured. Further applications for unmanned aircraft can be explored once solutions have been developed for their accommodation within national airspace, an issue currently under discussion by the Federal Aviation Administration. UAVSI, the UK manufacturer also produce a variant of their Vigilant light UAS (20 kg) designed specifically for scientific research in severe climates such as the Antarctic.
Armed attacks
MQ-1 Predator UAVs armed with Hellfire missiles are increasingly used by the U.S. as platforms for hitting ground targets. Armed Predators were first used in late 2001 from bases in Pakistan and Uzbekistan, mostly aimed at assasinating high profile individuals (terrorist leaders etc.) inside Afghanistan. Since then, there have been many reported cases of such attacks taking place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The advantage of using an unmanned vehicle, rather than a manned aircraft, in such cases is to avoid a diplomatic embarrassment should the aircraft be shot down and the pilots captured, since the bombings take place in countries deemed friendly and without the official permission of those countries.
A Predator based in a neighboring Arab country was used to kill suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen on November 3, 2002. This marked the first use of an armed Predator as an attack aircraft outside of a theater of war such as Afghanistan.
Questions have been raised about the accuracy of the targeting of UAVs. In March 2009, The Guardian reported allegations that Israeli UAVs armed with missiles killed 48 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, including two small children in a field and a group of women and girls in an otherwise empty street. In June, Human Rights Watch investigated six UAV attacks which was reported to have resulted in civilian casualties, and alleged that Israeli forces either failed to take all feasible precautions to verify that the targets were combatants, or failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians. In July 2009, Brookings Institution released a report stating that in the United States-led drone attacks in Pakistan, ten civilians died for every militant killed. S. Azmat Hassan, a former ambassador of Pakistan, said in July 2009 that American UAV attacks were turning Pakistani opinion against the United States, and that 35 or 40 such attacks only killed 8 or 9 top al-Qaeda operatives.
CIA officials became concerned in 2008 that targets in Pakistan were being tipped off to pending U.S. drone strikes by Pakistani intelligence, when the U.S. requested Pakistani permission prior to launching drone attacks.The Bush administration therefore decided in August 2008 to abandon the practice of obtaining Pakistani government permission before launching missiles from drones, and in the next six months the CIA carried out at least 38 Predator strikes in northwest Pakistan, compared with 10 in 2006 and 2007 combined.
The U.S. has claimed that the Predator strikes killed at least nine senior al-Qaeda leaders, and dozens of lower-ranking operatives, depleting its operational tier in what U.S. officials described as the most serious disruption of al-Qaeda since 2001. It was claimed that the Predator strikes took such a toll on al-Qaeda that militants began turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust. A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said: “They have started hunting down people who they think are responsible” for security breaches. “People are showing up dead, or disappearing.”
By October 2009, the CIA claimed to have killed more than half of the 20 most wanted al-Qaeda terrorist suspects in targeted killings using drones. By May 2010, counter-terrorism officials said that drone strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas had killed more than 500 militants since 2008, and no more than 30 (5%) nearby civilians—mainly family members who lived and traveled with the targets. Drones linger overhead after a strike, in some cases for hours, to enable the CIA to count the bodies and attempt to determine which, if any, are civilians. A Pakistani intelligence officer gave a higher estimate of civilian casualties, saying 20% of total deaths were civilians or non-combatants.
One issue with civilian casualties is the relative lack of discretion of the 100 lb (45 kg) Hellfire, which was designed to eliminate tanks and attack bunkers. Smaller weapons such as the Raytheon Griffin and Small Tactical Munition are being developed as a less indiscriminate alternative and development is underway on the still smaller, US Navy-developed Spike missile. The payload-limited Predator A can also be armed with six Griffin missiles, as opposed to only two of the much-heavier Hellfires. Although it may never be known how many civilians have died as a result of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, there are estimates of hundreds or thousands of innocent bystanders who have perished in such attacks. Pakistani authorities released statistics indicating that between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009, U.S. Predator and Reaper drone strikes have killed over 700 innocent civilians. The website PakistanBodyCount.Org (by Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, a Fulbright Scholar at the Florida Institute of Technology) shows 1065 civilian deaths between June 2004 to January 30, 2010 and tallying 103 drone strikes carried out by the U.S. With the increase of drone strikes, according to the most recent story in The International News, January 2010 proved to be a deadly month in Pakistan with 123 innocent civilians killed. In addition, it has been reported that 160 children have died from drone attacks in Pakistan. Further, over 1000 civilians have been injured. This evidence runs counter to the Obama administration’s claim that ‘nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death’ due to drone attacks. According to the February 24, 2010 policy analysis “The Year of the Drone” released by the New America Foundation, the civilian fatality rate since 2004 is approximately 32%. The study reports that 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to present killed between 830 to 1210 individuals, around 550 to 850 of whom were militants.
After more than 30 drone strikes hit civilian homes in Afghanistan in 2012, President Hamid Karzai demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia that are not in war zones. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has criticized such use of drones, “We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks…This would have been unthinkable in previous times.”
Search and rescue
UAVs will likely play an increased role in search and rescue in the United States. This was demonstrated by the use of UAVs during the 2008 hurricanes that struck Louisiana and Texas. Micro UAVs, such as the Aeryon Scout have been used to perform Search and Rescue activities on a smaller scale, such as the search for missing persons.
For example, Predators, operating between 18,000–29,000 feet above sea level, performed search and rescue and damage assessment. Payloads carried were an optical sensor (which is a daytime and infra red camera) and a synthetic aperture radar. The Predator’s SAR is a sophisticated all-weather sensor capable of providing photographic-like images through clouds, rain or fog, and in daytime or nighttime conditions; all in real-time. A concept of coherent change detection in SAR images allows for exceptional search and rescue ability: photos taken before and after the storm hits are compared and a computer highlights areas of damage.
In June 2012, the World Wide Fund for Nature announced it will begin using UAVs in Nepal, to aid conservation efforts, following a successful trial of two aircraft in Chitwan National Park, with ambitions to expand to other countries, such as Tanzania and Malaysia. The global wildlife organization plans to train ten personnel to use the drones, with operational use beginning in the fall.
Design and development considerations
UAV design and production is a global activity, with manufacturers all across the world. The United States and Israel were initial pioneers in this technology, and U.S. manufacturers have a market share of over 60% in 2006, with U.S. market share due to increase by 5–10% through 2016. Northrop Grumman and General Atomics are the dominant manufacturers in this industry, on the strength of the Global Hawk and Predator/Mariner systems. Israeli and European manufacturers form a second tier due to lower indigenous investments, and the governments of those nations have initiatives to acquire U.S. systems due to higher levels of capability. European market share represented just 4% of global revenue in 2006.
Development costs for American military UAVs, as with most military programs, have tended to overrun their initial estimates. This is mostly due to changes in requirements during development and a failure to leverage UAV development programs over multiple armed services. This has caused United States Navy UAV programs to increase in cost from 0% to 5% while United States Air Force UAV programs have increased from 60% to 284%.
Degree of autonomy
Early UAVs used during the Vietnam War after launch captured video that was recorded to film or tape on the aircraft. These aircraft often were launched and flew either in a straight line or in preset circles collecting video until they ran out of fuel and landed. After landing, the film was recovered for analysis. Because of the simple nature of these aircraft, they were often called drones. As new radio control systems became available, UAVs were often remote controlled and the term “remotely piloted vehicle” came into vogue. Today’s UAVs often combine remote control and computerized automation. More sophisticated versions may have built-in control and/or guidance systems to perform low-level human pilot duties such as speed and flight-path stabilization, and simple scripted navigation functions such as waypoint following. In news and other discussions, often the term “drone” is still mistakenly used to refer to these more sophisticated aircraft.
From this perspective, most early UAVs are not autonomous at all. In fact, the field of air-vehicle autonomy is a recently emerging field, whose economics is largely driven by the military to develop battle-ready technology. Compared to the manufacturing of UAV flight hardware, the market for autonomy technology is fairly immature and undeveloped. Because of this, autonomy has been and may continue to be the bottleneck for future UAV developments, and the overall value and rate of expansion of the future UAV market could be largely driven by advances to be made in the field of autonomy.
Autonomy technology that is important to UAV development falls under the following categories:
• Sensor fusion: Combining information from different sensors for use on board the vehicle
• Communications: Handling communication and coordination between multiple agents in the presence of incomplete and imperfect information
• Path planning: Determining an optimal path for vehicle to go while meeting certain objectives and mission constraints, such as obstacles or fuel requirements
• Trajectory Generation (sometimes called Motion planning): Determining an optimal control maneuver to take to follow a given path or to go from one location to another
• Trajectory Regulation: The specific control strategies required to constrain a vehicle within some tolerance to a trajectory
• Task Allocation and Scheduling: Determining the optimal distribution of tasks amongst a group of agents, with time and equipment constraints
• Cooperative Tactics: Formulating an optimal sequence and spatial distribution of activities between agents in order to maximize chance of success in any given mission scenario
Autonomy is commonly defined as the ability to make decisions without human intervention. To that end, the goal of autonomy is to teach machines to be “smart” and act more like humans. The keen observer may associate this with the development in the field of artificial intelligence made popular in the 1980s and 1990s such as expert systems, neural networks, machine learning, natural language processing, and vision. However, the mode of technological development in the field of autonomy has mostly followed a bottom-up approach, such as hierarchical control systems, and recent advances have been largely driven by the practitioners in the field of control science, not computer science[citation needed]. Similarly, autonomy has been and probably will continue to be considered an extension of the controls field.
To some extent, the ultimate goal in the development of autonomy technology is to replace the human pilot. It remains to be seen whether future developments of autonomy technology, the perception of the technology, and most importantly, the political climate surrounding the use of such technology, will limit the development and utility of autonomy for UAV applications. Also as a result of this, synthetic vision for piloting has not caught on in the UAV arena as it did with manned aircraft. NASA utilized synthetic vision for test pilots on the HiMAT program in the early 1980s (see photo), but the advent of more autonomous UAV autopilots, greatly reduced the need for this technology.
Interoperable UAV technologies became essential as systems proved their mettle in military operations, taking on tasks too challenging or dangerous for troops. NATO addressed the need for commonality through STANAG (Standardization Agreement) 4586. According to a NATO press release, the agreement began the ratification process in 1992. Its goal was to allow allied nations to easily share information obtained from unmanned aircraft through common ground control station technology. STANAG 4586 – aircraft that adhere to this protocol are equipped to translate information into standardized message formats; likewise, information received from other compliant aircraft can be transferred into vehicle-specific messaging formats for seamless interoperability. Amendments have since been made to the original agreement, based on expert feedback from the field and an industry panel known as the Custodian Support Team. Edition Two of STANAG 4586 is currently under review. There are many systems available today that are developed in accordance with STANAG 4586, including products by industry leaders such as AAI Corporation, CDL Systems, and Raytheon, all three of which are members of the Custodian Support Team for this protocol.
Because UAVs are not burdened with the physiological limitations of human pilots, they can be designed for maximized on-station times. The maximum flight duration of unmanned, aerial vehicles varies widely. Internal-combustion-engine aircraft endurance depends strongly on the percentage of fuel burned as a fraction of total weight (the Breguet endurance equation), and so is largely independent of aircraft size. Solar-electric UAVs hold potential for unlimited flight, a concept originally championed by the AstroFlight Sunrise in 1974 and the much later Aerovironment Helios Prototype, which was destroyed in a 2003 crash.
Electric UAVs kept aloft indefinitely by laser power-beaming technology represent another proposed solution to the endurance challenge. This approach is advocated by Jordin Kare and Thomas Nugent.
One of the major problems with UAVs is the lack of inflight refueling capability. Currently the US Air Force is promoting research that should end in an inflight UAV refueling capability. The first UAV-UAV refueling flights are expected sometime during the first half of 2012.
One of the uses for a high endurance UAV would be to “stare” at the battlefield for a long period of time to produce a record of events that could then be played backwards to track where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) came from. Air Force Chief of Staff John P. Jumper started a program to create these persistent UAVs, but this was stopped once he was replaced.
In 2007, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) revealed a program to develop technology for a UAV with an endurance capability of over 5 years. The program, entitled VULTURE (an acronym for Very-high altitude, Ultra-endurance, Loitering Theater Unmanned Reconnaissance Element), entered Phase II on September 14, 2010, with a contract signed with Boeing for development of the SolarEagle flight demonstrator.
Hardening of the control stations
Given the increasing military use of cyber attacks against Microsoft software, the United States Armed Forces have moved towards Linux ground control software.
Buddy attacks
Norton Schwartz, top officer of the USAF, sees future UAVs operating under the control of manned aircraft to make “buddy attacks”.
Existing UAV systems
UAVs have been developed and deployed by many countries around the world. For a list of models by country, see: List of unmanned aerial vehicles. The use of unmanned aerial systems, however, is not limited to state powers: non-state actors can also build, buy and operate these combat vehicles.,
The export of UAVs or technology capable of carrying a 500 kg payload at least 300 km is restricted in many countries by the Missile Technology Control Regime. At the center of the American military’s continued UAV research is the MQ-X, which builds upon the capabilities of the Reaper and Predator drones. As currently conceived, the MQ-X would be a stealthier and faster fighter-plane sized UAV capable of any number of missions: high-performance surveillance; attack options, including retractable cannons and bomb or missile payloads; and cargo capacity.
China has exhibited some UAV designs, but its ability to operate them is limited by the lack of high endurance domestic engines, satellite infrastructure and operational experience.
Historical events involving UAVs
• During the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi Army forces surrendered to the UAVs of the USS Wisconsin.
• In October 2002, a few days before the U.S. Senate vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution, about 75 senators were told in closed session that Saddam Hussein had the means of delivering biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by UAV drones that could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack U.S. eastern seaboard cities. Colin Powell suggested in his presentation to the United Nations that they had been transported out of Iraq and could be launched against the U.S. It was later revealed that Iraq’s UAV fleet consisted of only a few outdated Czech training drones. At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the intelligence community as to whether CIA’s conclusions about Iraqi UAVs were accurate. The U.S. Air Force agency most familiar with UAVs denied outright that Iraq possessed any offensive UAV capability.
• In December 2002, the first ever dogfight involving a UAV occurred when an Iraqi MiG-25 and a U.S. RQ-1 Predator fired missiles at each other. The MiG’s missile destroyed the Predator.
• The U.S. deployed UAVs in Yemen to search for and kill Anwar al-Awlaki, firing at and failing to kill him at least once, before he was killed in a drone attack in Yemen on 30 September 2011. Two weeks later, Al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was also killed by an American drone strike in Yemen.
• In December 2011, Iran captured an United States’ RQ-170 unmanned aerial vehicle which flew over Iran, and rejected President Barack Obama’s request to return it to the US. Iranian officials have recovered data from the U.S. surveillance drone. However, it is not clear how Iran shot it down.There have also been reports that Iran spoofed the GPS signal used by the drone and tricked it into landing on an Iranian runway.
• In 2011 the US Department of Defense offered $100,000 in prizes in a contest enabling citizen scientists, creative minds and innovators everywhere to produce advanced small unmanned air vehicles.The submission period started on 28 July 2011 (at 12:00 AM EDT) and ended on 6 January 2012 (at 11:59 PM EST).
Domestic aerial surveillance
Although UAVs are today most commonly associated with military actions, UAVs are increasingly being used by civilian government agencies, businesses, and private individuals. In the United States, for example, government agencies use drones to patrol the nation’s borders, scout property, and hunt down fugitives. One of the first authorized for domestic usage was the ShadowHawk UAV in service in Montgomery County, Texas and is being used by their SWAT and emergency management offices.
Drones Over Canada
The Government of Canada is considering the purchase of UAVs for arctic surveillance. The Canadian government wants to buy at least three high-altitude, unmanned aerial vehicles in what could be an attempt to salvage its Arctic sovereignty ambitions. The Canadian government wants to modify the existing Global Hawk drone, which can operate at 20,000 metres, to meet the rigours of flying in Canada’s Far North.
Drones Over the United States
UAVs can be powerful surveillance tools, capable of carrying face recognition systems, license plate scanners, thermal imaging cameras, open WiFi sniffers, and other sensors.The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on January 10, 2012 against the Federal Aviation Administration.As a result of the lawsuit, the FAA released for the first time a list of the names of all public and private entities that have applied for authorizations to fly drones domestically. Some of these government licenses belong to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of the Department of Homeland Security. Drones have been used by CBP to patrol of United States borders since 2005, and the Agency currently owns 10 drones.A May 2012 report issued by the DHS Inspector General found that CBP “needs to improve planning of its unmanned aircraft systems program to address its level of operation, program funding, and resource requirements, along with stakeholder needs.” Also, despite the Bureau’s limited mission to safeguard the borders, the Bureau often flies missions for the FBI, the Department of Defense, NOAA, local law enforcement, and other agencies. In December 2011, the CBP made headlines when reporters discovered that the agency’s drones were being used to assist local law enforcement in North Dakota without receiving prior approval from the FAA or any other agency.
Individuals in the United States have few legal privacy protections from aerial surveillance conducted through UAVs. In Katz v. United States, the United States Supreme Court declared individuals have no “expectation of privacy” in public places. In Florida v. Riley, the United States Supreme Court held that individuals on their own, private property do not have right to privacy from police observation from public airspace. The weakness of legal protection from UAV surveillance have led to calls from civil liberties advocacy groups for the U.S. government to issue laws and regulations that establish both privacy protections and greater transparency regarding the use of UAVs to gather information about individuals.On February 24, 2012, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, joined by over 100 organizations, experts, and members of the public, submitted a petition to the FAA requesting a public rulemaking on the privacy impact of drone use in US airspace. In June 2012, Senator Rand Paul and Representative Austin Scott both introduced legislation that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before using a drone to conduct criminal surveillance. EPIC has stated that transparency and accountability must be built into the FAA’s system of drone regulation in order to provide basic protections to the public.
Unmanned aircraft can be used to monitor animal population at Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Unmanned aircraft have played vital roles in the military and space exploration. They could soon help with preserving marine resources. It’s called the Puma Unmanned Aircraft System and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is looking to use the planes to monitor the ocean. The Puma weighs about 13 pounds, flies for about two hours, and is electrically powered by batteries. At first glance it looks like a model airplane, but it has a high definition camera built in that can send streaming video by computer. Scientists with NOAA would like to launch the planes from a boat and monitor remote areas such as the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The Hawaiian state government will not have to risk personnel being landed on the beaches’ exotic species and there will be less potential for any disturbance of the wildlife that is being surveyed. The aircraft can make it easier to track marine animals for their census and can provide additional information that’s missing from satellites. The aircraft can also be used to help researchers get a better look at marine debris. With debris from the Japan tsunami washing up on U.S. and Canadian shores, the aircraft can help track the debris better and evaluate the impact.
Some privacy scholars argue that the domestic use of drones for surveillance will ultimately benefit privacy by encouraging society to demand greater privacy rights.
Associated today with the theatre of war, the widespread domestic use of drones for surveillance seems inevitable. Existing privacy law will not stand in its way. It may be tempting to conclude on this basis that drones will further erode our individual and collective privacy. Yet the opposite may happen. Drones may help restore our mental model of a privacy violation. They could be just the visceral jolt society needs to drag privacy law into the twenty-first century. — M. Ryan Calo
Law enforcement and other government agencies are not the only entities that use UAVs. Private citizens and media organizations use UAVs as well. Occupy Wall Street journalist Tim Pool uses what he calls an Occucopter, for live feed coverage of Occupy movement events.The “occucopter” is an inexpensive Parrot AR.Drone radio controlled quadrotor, with cameras attached and controllable by Android devices or iOS devices such as the iPhone.
UAVs in popular culture
UAVs have been used in many episodes of the science-fiction television series Stargate SG-1, and a sentient unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) was a central figure in the action film Stealth. UAVs are also used in computer and video games such as F.E.A.R., inFamous, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, and the popular Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises.[130] A more futuristic and fictional example of a combat UAV is a Man-hack featured in the Half-Life game series. Also in the 2005 movie Syriana, UCAVs controlled by homeland based operators appear several times when striking against a motorcade somewhere in the Middle East.

Counter-drone technologies are evolving to “counter” countermeasures
January 7, 2020
by Sally Cole
Military Embedded Systems
Counter-unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technologies are focusing on a multilayered defense. They’re also being tasked with providing a “counter” to countermeasures.
Drone technologies are evolving rapidly and, not surprisingly, counter-drone technologies are as well. The U.S. military is currently embracing multilayered counter-drone approaches to deal with the threat drones pose, but no silver bullet approach exists yet that can detect and mitigate every threat.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on counter-drone systems today – ranging from military drone mitigation to small drones,” says Mike Blades, vice president, Americas, Aerospace, Defense, and Security for Frost & Sullivan (New York, New York). “Most of the efforts center on small drones because that’s proliferating the fastest.”
Raytheon’s defense customers are “likening drones to the improvised explosive device (IED) situation 20 years ago, when we saw an adversary take a readily available technology and weaponize it in a low-cost way,” says Todd Probert, vice president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information, and Services (Dulles, Virginia). “This is a similar situation in which the cost of the technology has come down so rapidly that the influx of this capability on the marketplace has given adversaries the ability to do nefarious things with them.”
Threats from drones have become “much more prevalent with the proliferation of inexpensive drones,” says Dave Bessey, assistant vice president of business development for SRC (North Syracuse, New York). “For example, the disruption of air travel or small unmanned aircraft systems being used in insurgent operations for surveillance or to deliver deadly payloads. This threat is also becoming autonomous – with a lack of communication signals – and is undetectable by RF, which means that other layers of defense are now required.”
Right now, SRC is actively developing on-the-move sensor suites for multifunction electronic attack and surveillance, as well as advanced cameras and optical tracking. “To enhance all of our technology, we’re investing in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning,” Bessey adds.
Detection of targets
When it comes to counter-drones, “you need the capabilities to detect, track, and positively identify a target before you can engage,” explains Don Sullivan, chief technologist of directed energy for Raytheon’s Missile Systems (Tucson, Arizona). “So you need what we refer to as ‘full skydom’ coverage: it has to be 360 degrees in azimuth, and then from below the horizon to straight up zenith in the sky. If you don’t have that capability, then you have a vulnerable path to the target not being covered and it can become a major issue.”
Another consideration is that your response should be commensurate with the cost of the target. “Sending an interceptor that’s going to cost you tens of thousands of dollars to take down a $200 or $500 drone isn’t a good approach,” Sullivan says. “It may be necessary against some high-value assets that you’re trying to protect, but it certainly isn’t an economical way of countering the threat. For that reason, both electronic warfare and cyber and directed energy are good approaches because you’re engaging targets for as few dollars per engagement as possible – if you take into account maintenance and operation costs. So the military is looking at nonkinetic solutions vs. kinetic solutions for most counter-unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capabilities.”
Blades says he expects the military to continue to invest in more advanced capabilities like AI to help with detection. “They want to be able to detect drones really far out, so they need radar that can detect small things flying low and fast,” he notes. “EO/IR is good too, because it allows you to do payload detection. Once you have this thing on your radar you can point a camera over that way to see if it’s carrying something bad and, if it is, hopefully you have some sort of AI able to detect that automatically so you won’t need to have a person sitting there looking at every drone detected.”
Mitigation can focus on directed energy
On the mitigation side, expect to see a continued focus on directed energy such as laser and microwave counter-drone technologies. “Microwave technology isn’t as destructive as lasers,” points out Blades. “You’ll usually want to be able to do forensics on something that you shoot out of the sky to determine who sent it and why. The microwave will simply fry the electronics so that it can’t operate; it won’t destroy the aircraft and burn it up like a laser would.”
Raytheon offers both laser and microwave counter-UAS systems. Their high-energy laser weapon system (HEL WS) has already shown that it can knock down more than 40 UAS targets coming at it. “The Air Force and Army are mostly interested in Class I and II UASs, which are the smaller systems that you normally see like the small quadcopters and fixed-wing UASs being used by terrorist groups overseas for attacks,” Sullivan explains. HEL’s main advantages are that “it has a fairly long range within the 3- to 5-km range, on the order of a 10kW laser, and can take out individual UASs fairly rapidly. They can go after ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] UASs that are there to search for and locate potential targets for the adversary.”
Raytheon’s high-power microwave (HPM), called Phaser, is primarily custom-built and has advantages that are complementary to HEL. “It doesn’t have as long a range (which is classified) as HEL, but because its beam is more akin to a searchlight than a laser beam it can take down UASs simultaneously within its beam,” Sullivan says. “We’ve demonstrated Phaser several times. Because of the complementary nature and the advantages of engaging targets at the speed of light and being able to specifically with the Phaser take out swarms of UASs simultaneously, the Air Force wants additional demonstrations of both of these systems.”
Multilayered counter-drone approaches
Many counter-drone approaches focus on radio frequency (RF) because most drones use some sort of RF command and control link, but now it’s being combined with electro-optical/infrared sensors, radar, or acoustics for a more complete multi-sensor detection capability.
“Companies are forming partnerships with others who specialize in areas they don’t. Sensor makers are partnering with companies that make jamming guns or net guns, or directed energy and lasers on the defense side,” Blades says.
Counter-UAS solutions “are expanding to include fixed, transportable, and mobile configurations,” Bessey says. “Military customers will ask for more autonomous systems because they want systems that are open to integrate with other sensors, such as acoustics, depending on the environment.”
What do you do once you gain lots of situational awareness from all these sensors? To help make it more useful, Raytheon has created a command and control mode called Windshear, a counter-UAS system, which is a platform to plug in other sensors – think radars and optical systems – to help get a better picture of what’s going on within your airspace.
“Windshear is plugged into large-scale air traffic control radars, but it’s purpose-built to go to that small space as well to look at that 100- to 1000-foot range to understand what’s going on within that environment,” Probert says. “Then we marry it up with effectors. So if you have an intrusion, in the case of a UAV entering an airport’s airspace, maybe the first phase of the effectors would be lights and sirens to make the operator aware that it’s a restricted space and give them the option to move out of it.”
A layered defense beyond that would also be preferred, and Raytheon has RF techniques that allow it to jam the communications systems of a large class of these unmanned systems, which might be the second layer of defense. “Beyond that, we’ve got GPS jamming capabilities and cyber effects that can take out the GPS these systems use to navigate, or the operator can take positive command and control of those systems to ensure a safe landing or steerage out of a public venue,” Probert adds.
Windshear has been demonstrated with battlespace effectors and Raytheon’s high-energy laser; it’s also been part of demonstrations where a kinetic effector like a missile might be used as well.
Raytheon is dealing with all of the military services, and they’re all looking at a multilayered defense. “Think of a set of range rings around the point you’re trying to defend – whether it’s a fixed point or a convoy in motion,” Sullivan says. “You’d like to be able to do that within these rings.”
For example, one UAS system Raytheon has developed for the Army is called the Coyote. It has a very small kinetic warhead, but a very advanced seeker that gives you the ability to attack individual drones. “It can go out for quite a long range and inside it you’d have something like Windshear and a high-energy weapons system, which provides a ring 360 degrees around and full-sky coverage that allows you to take out UASs within that secondary ring,” Sullivan adds. “Then, when you want to take out large swarms simultaneously, you’d use the HPM Phaser to defend the point within the closest range ring.”
The problem of swarms
Swarm technology – with numerous drones working cooperatively together on a mission – doesn’t need to be very advanced to pose a serious threat.
Swarms are becoming an increasing issue, and “if you watched the Olympics in South Korea you saw the demonstration of many UASs flying in formation,” Sullivan says. “And the Chinese had a demonstration of 1,374 drones, the world record, which shows that you can have a very large number of these types of systems. Both military and civilian authorities are quite concerned about the potential of swarms attacking targets.”
What is likely to become a target? “In general, the U.S. worries about large groups of people at big events, in stadiums, parades, and on main operating bases where high-value assets in terms of aircraft and other defense systems are located,” Sullivan adds. “Of course, forward operating bases are an issue, where the concern is mostly about surveillance, but there’s a potential for swarming attacks as well.”
“Even if a bad actor launches 50 drones at the same time, not working together, it’s bad because it’s an asymmetric threat,” Blades says. “You can buy 50 drones for $50,000 and inflict millions of dollars of damage. Drones have very unsophisticated launching mechanisms, and bad actors can select waypoints and let them fly and drop on targets. Even if it isn’t a swarm, with small ammunition like grenades or 40-mm shells, if 20 or 30 drones are coming at you, it could get real bad fast.”
A bunch of drones coming at you poses a threat, but a swarm coming at you is much worse because they will be able to change to adapt to whatever you do to counter them. “The idea behind swarms is to coordinate and cooperate to make the attack more lethal,” Blades notes. “So the military needs to be able to take out multiple drones simultaneously.”
Hostile swarms will likely “become a reality, because there are reports of countries already testing swarm capabilities,” Bessey says. “SRC’s technologies, including Silent Archer and SkyChaser, are engineered to detect, track, and mitigate a single drone or a swarm. Many of the existing technologies such as netting or jamming drone guns aren’t capable of mitigating a swarm. The more sophisticated the swarm technology is, the more difficult it is to neutralize them.”
Countering the countermeasures
Once it becomes possible to counter UASs, the next step is to find a way to counter the countermeasures.
“There’s a sort of little arms race going on now – so many counter-drone systems and approaches are available,” Blades says. “Drone makers are asking, ‘How do we counter that counter?’ and ‘What can we put on our drones so they can’t see or hear us?’”
A small industry is already emerging to make drones more difficult to detect, Blades notes, using everything from antispoofable GPS antennas to new ways to reduce the acoustic signature of drone propellers so you won’t hear that classic high-pitched drone noise until it’s much closer or you won’t hear it at all.
This is just the beginning.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 56

And for the next hour, they went very carefully over the project to remove Collins from the marketplace. Claude had worked out the basic plan and Chuck picked at it, looking for flaws and imperfections while at the same time contributing to the overall project in a way that impressed Claude with its cold logic.
“You know, Cyril, it’s too bad I didn’t run into you earlier. I always work alone but you might have been a pretty good crime partner. Leaving your fine ass out of it, that is, and don’t throw stuff at me. I’m just having fun with you because you get so righteous sometimes. I’ll accept your changes and now that we both agree on what needs to be done and how, the big question is when do we do it?”
“The weather, Claude. The weather is the determinant factor. As I remember the lake area in winter, there is a lot of ice along the shore. It melts off maybe in March, maybe earlier, depending on the weather. I think we should prepare for everything, and when the yacht harbor is clear of any ice, strike as soon as we can. Two five gallon cans of gas, lock picks and wet suits…”
“Now wait a minute friend. You come along, OK. You have to call Collins and pretend to be the killer. We agree. But the actual business on the boat is entirely up to me. I work better alone and you’d only fuck it up by trying to be helpful. You stay on shore and let me take care of business. And I mean this seriously. I’ll get the wet suit and something to float the gas cans on…”
“Plastic cans would be better…”
“Right. I get on the boat, disconnect any security devices, get into the bilge area, make sure there are no vents and if there are, plug them up, disable the bilge fan, rewire the control board and then get off. If everything goes OK, maybe forty five minutes.”
“And if there is anyone on board?”
“If Collins is sleeping on board, I’ll ice him and anyone else. If the security is only on the docks, leave them alone and hope for their sake that they aren’t standing too close when Collins fires it up. OK?”
“Of course. I think I would rather watch him blow up than have you stick an ice pick in his eye.”
“Well, is the end important, Chuckie, or are the means?”
“If it feels good, do it.”
“Oh, Father Benedict wouldn’t like that at all.”
“My God, you really must have had a crush on the good Father, Claude.”
“Actually, I had a real crush on Sister Mary Immaculata. And I mean a real crush. That woman had the finest body I have ever seen. By the time I got stuffed into the kiddy jail, nuns didn’t wear their habits any more.”
“They went around nude?”
“No, asshole, they wore nice gray dresses. Anyway, the good Sister had a magnificent body, let me tell you. I had her for two school classes and I never left class without a real hardon, even as a small boy. She’s one of the reasons I became a burglar. Sister Mary was about twenty-five and she had a room up on the top floor, the one that blew off in the hurricane. Anyway, there was a ledge running around that floor, just in front of the windows, so I found out that by sneaking out at night and going up the fire escape, I could just reach the ledge and crawl along it for about thirty feet.”
“You must have had it bad.”
“Well, there were no girls in our outfit and I got tired of looking at guys in the shower. I wanted to see what Sister Mary looked like. I had so many fantasies that my sheets were always a mess in the morning. So the first time I crawled out on the ledge, I got pigeon shit all over my pants but I did see her. What a fantasy, Cyril! A real dream come true. Her blinds only came down to an inch of the bottom of the window and I had a real good look at her doing aerobic exercises completely, stark naked. And sweating too! Oh, I added to the piles of pigeon shit that first night, let me tell you lad. What a wonderful body she had. Bride of Christ my ass. She would have been the bride of Claude if I had my way. Which I didn’t. I used to dream about taking her away on a sailboat and lying around naked with her on the deck. What a horny little dude I was at ten and eleven.”
“I assume she was pretty.”
“In the face? You know, if I saw her on the street a week after I left the place, I wouldn’t have recognized her. I don’t even remember what her face looked like but the body was something else. In all seriousness, Cyril, I would have crawled naked over broken glass for a good city block just to be able to lick her butt. That’s how gorgeous Sister Mary was.”
“Did she ever pay any attention to you?”
“No, it was just a doomed relationship. One night I caught her eating out a novice and my love turned to…dried pigeon shit. There went the fantasies, the boat trips, the fun on the beach and everything else. What a waste of a good body, lad, a real waste. I never had much use for dikes after that experience.”
“Now you see, you really are normal after all. I’ll bet you didn’t crawl out on ledges three stories up to peek at Father Benedict, did you?”
“Father Benedict didn’t live in the building and no, I wouldn’t have walked across the hall to scope him out.”
“How about the head nun?”
“Oh Jesusmary, you must be sick! She looked like a pink King Kong…with the hair. I once wondered how she and Father Benedict would look humping but it got so gross I gave it up. Here, it’s Christmas, Cyril, and you’re getting pretty foul minded, don’t you think? Asking me really dirty questions. Let’s get back to more enjoyable things like blowing up cops, OK?”
But it was too late to discuss anything else with any coherence and Chuck got up and began to take off his clothes.
“We can finish all of this up in the morning, Claude. Claude?”
Claude had begun to doze off and was now sound asleep in his chair. Before Chuck got into bed, he got two heavy blankets and draped them over his guest. When the fire finally went out, it would get very cold in the room.
He got into bed, snapped off the light and was asleep in less than a minute.
This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

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