Yesterday's post has me thinking a bit more about drones and their employment by the US government in this century to snuff the life out of people without warning. The government has found that it has the power, authority and means to legally terminate not just enemies of the state but also Americans it disagrees with. I think that we will come to regret both the act and any smear of legal validation our courts have given to this practice once enemies of the government determine that anybody with a drone can be sovereign for a day and start using them against the ruling elite in this country.
It's not that hard to make the devices since most of the components can be purchased off the shelf. Guidance systems, once the most difficult aspect in weapon system design is as simple as ordering up a GPS unit. Stealth is practically forced on modern drone builders looking for larger payloads by reducing the weight of the airframe and power plant and therefore turning to composites. Traditionalists always opted for high explosive ordnance but the subway attack in Japan using nerve gas shows that just about anybody can make lethal neurotoxins and a few gallons of pure evil go a long way.
Drones can be launched from just about anywhere. They don't need airfields and runways since all they need is a space wide enough and long enough to get off the ground. Returning is not in the plan. There is no particular reason to launch the drone close to the target. A drone built along the lines of Rutan's Voyager which had a crew of two and fuel enough to go all the way around the world without refueling in 1986 would easily have a 1000 pound payload.
Enemies of the United States would have no shortage of kamikaze pilots without any need for fancy electronics. Enemies of the government of the United States would have little difficulty putting together unmanned versions. Consider that these drones may not be considered dangerous by the ruling class in Washington but that is because the skies over DC are patrolled by armed aircraft and there are active ground based defenses scattered around it. However, drones intercepted and shot down before reaching their intended target have a characteristic common with all aircraft; there's just enough time and fuel remaining to get to the scene of the crash/explosion/chemical release. Anybody in the projected flight path to the target is at risk whether from an unplanned crash or from the deliberate destruction of the drone by other means.
USMC F-18 ran out of engines 2 miles short of the runway.
I thought about this as I read General McChrystal's remarks today about how much hatred there is in the rest of the world for the US by those who oppose drone strikes. The first time I saw a reference to this was in "The Moon Goddess and the Son" by Donald Kingsbury. In the book the drone was built and targeted by disaffected Soviet hating young terrorists from Afghanistan protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
All of this makes the utter waste and stupidity of the TSA and HLS more painful to put up with. Consider that the same effects can be achieved more easily with a truck bomb.
This was Khobar. Those that know swore blind that there was absolutely no evidence of ANY high explosives in the Kingdom before the attack. One needs to get the explosive much closer than one would think to have the desired effect. Having watched semis push Jersey barriers out of the way with their front bumpers in order to negotiate the turn into my office complex in the days, months, years after 9/11, I'm not sanguine about keeping such things at a safe distance, never mind the drone variants.