2007-04-15

Der Aufstieg der Killer-Drohnen

--- Die New York Times beleuchtet den Erfolgszug der unbemannten Flugobjekte alias Drohnen:
For years, such planes � known as U.A.V.�s, for unmanned aerial vehicles � were pariahs within the military industry, scorned by commanders who saw them as threats to the status quo. But during the last several years, U.A.V.�s have amassed unusual political firepower. �For a long time, the only thing most generals could agree on was that they didn�t want any unmanned vehicles,� says Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. �Now everyone wants as many as they can get.� ... This transformation is, in many ways, a reflection of how the military�s priorities and goals have changed over the last decade. It is also a testament to how much clout General Atomics has amassed in a short period of time. ... the Predator and General Atomics reflect the military�s transformation from conflicts built around manned armor to strategies organized around surveillance. U.A.V.�s embody the potential for quick, relatively effortless wars fought by drones controlled from great distances, and thus have become lightning rods for battles over the military�s direction. ... The Predator itself has offered critics some ammunition. One analyst estimates that 20 percent of all Predators sold to the United States military have crashed, because of errors by pilots controlling them from the ground. ... After taking office in 2001, President George W. Bush gave his defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, a mandate to remake the military into a more technologically advanced organization, and U.A.V.�s became a top priority, say former department officials. The Sept. 11 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan heightened the push. ... �Predators became emblematic of what Rumsfeld wanted,� said Loren B. Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute. �Suddenly, everyone was saying they were ordering Predators, whether they actually wanted them or not.� ... In 2005, the Air Force announced that it was ordering enough Predators to equip 15 squadrons over five years, at a price of $5.7 billion. The Department of Homeland Security has bought two Predators for border control, and Italy and Turkey have also bought planes. A research firm, the Teal Group, predicts that the handful of U.A.V. manufacturers will collect about $55 billion worldwide over the next 10 years. General Atomics is expected to dominate a large portion of that market, said Philip Finnegan, an analyst at Teal. When Mr. Rumsfeld stepped down last year, one of the mandates that had bolstered the Predator for so long also disappeared. ... That presents a challenge for General Atomics, which is also confronting a flurry of competition. The major military contractors, including Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, have all jumped into the U.A.V. game. With billions of dollars at their disposal and deep military relationships, those companies can outspend smaller rivals. �This is an exploding marketplace, and we intend to claim a larger market share as it grows bigger and bigger,� said Gemma Loochkartt, a spokeswoman for Northrop Grumman. �Being a leader in this sector is important to maintaining leadership within the defense industry.� So General Atomics is aggressively building on its existing clout. Unlike many other military contractors, which wait for a guaranteed contract to build new products, General Atomics has set aside what some analysts estimate at $50 million to build the next generation of Predators. �We can move faster because we�re smaller, and we make sure people know that,� says Mr. Blue, who, at 72, still actively guides the company�s strategic direction. General Atomics has upgraded its manufacturing with a diverse range of automated and laser-guided tools that allow it to quickly change design specifications and produce custom-built planes, a flexibility that analysts say is almost unrivaled within the military industry.
Und sonst: re:publica was in town und diskutierte u.a. �ber einen Blogger-Kodex bzw. eine spezielle Ethik f�r die Betreiber von Web-Journalen und die zunehmende Kommerzialisierung von Weblogs. Fotos vom Konzert am zweiten Abend der Konferenz mit den Ohrbooten + Jammin* Inc gibts nat�rlich auch.

Richtungsstreit unter Islamisten: W�hrend die Terroranschl�ge im Irak symbolisch immer wichtigere Ziele wie eine Tigris-Br�cke oder das Parlament innerhalb der angeblich "gr�nen Zone" treffen, ist die militantische Szene vor Ort gespalten: Wenn Terroristen Terroristen bek�mpfen. Sie sind zwar kaum weniger blutr�nstig - aber mit al-Qaida m�gen sie nichts mehr zu tun haben. Neun militante irakische Gruppen wollen die dortige Filiale des Terrornetzwerks isolieren. Denn al-Qaida t�te zu viele Muslime. Und habe Interessen au�erhalb Iraks.

Neuer Bundeswehr-Skandal durch "Motherfucker"-Video - seltsame Ausbilder hats da: Ein brisantes Video kursiert im Internet: Ein Ausbilder der Bundeswehr fordert darin einen Soldaten auf, bei einer Schie��bung an "Afroamerikaner" zu denken und "Motherfucker" zu br�llen.

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