The New York Times is reporting that lawmakers opposed to the highly classified $9.5 billion stealth satellite program alluded to by Senator Rockefeller are arguing that the United States should "rely much more heavily on high-flying unmanned aircraft to take pictures of critical targets around the world."Government officials told The New York Times tthat the Senate Intelligence Committee has, in each of the past two intelligence bills, called for "greater reliance on other, nonstealthy reconnaissance satellite systems now in existence or in development, including commercial satellites and a new generation of satellites known as the Future Imagery Architecture" as an alternative to the MISTY program.I was particularly intrigued by the reference to unmanned aerial vehicles because the Predator (above right) and Global Hawk UAV's performed so well in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. A senior Air Force official involved in Operation Enduring Freedom told the Air Force Association Magazine that the Predator had "enabled dramatic increases in timing and accuracy" over information gathered by satellites and traditional aerial reconnaissance.I even recall some particularly critical articles about the contribution from National Reconnaissance Office in Afghanistan, including one article titled "Bloodshot Eyes in the Sky" that warned the "bold new use of unmanned aerial vehicles [was] raising new questions about how best to divide reconnaissance between aerial and space assets."Everywhere except the Pentagon, apparently.--Jeffrey Lewis
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