Global Hawk RQ-4B reconnaissance drone: Range: 8,700 nautical miles
Feb 3 (Reuters) – NATO agreed on Friday to implement a drone-based high-altitude surveillance project after two decades of wrangling over how to share the funding.
The Alliance Ground Surveillance project (AGS) project, which is scheduled to come into use from 2015, will have its main base at Sigonella in Italy and several associated command-and-control base stations.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that under an agreement reached at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, a group of nations would acquire five Global Hawk RQ-4B reconnaissance drones produced by U.S. firm Northrop Grumman and powered by Rolls-Royce engines.
Northrop Grumman ISS International is the main contractor, while the German arm of EADS, Italy’s Galileo Avionica — a unit of Finmeccanica — and the Canadian arm of General Dynamics are also involved.
The 13 countries participating in the project are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United States.
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta welcomed the deal.
“It’s good deal, big deal, done deal,” he was quoted as saying in a Twitter message posted by the U.S. ambassador to NATO.
Rasmussen, who has been a champion of such cooperative defence projects, said NATO’s operation in Libya last year had shown the need for such a capability.
“This will give our commanders the ability to see what is happening on the ground, at long range, over periods of time, around the clock, in any weather,” he said.
The drones fly at 60,000 feet and can stay aloft for over 24 hours.
The U.S. Air Force recently decided to scrap its Northrop Grumman drone programme and keep its Cold War-vintage U-2 spy planes flying into the 2020s, according to a government official and a defense analyst....
3 02 2012
[The Republicans are pushing the position of total war as the only alternative to Obama's plans, both in the Middle East and in Afghanistan. They are behind the push to bomb Taliban bases in Pakistan. If the Neocon right-wing hyper-patriots have their way we will see global thermonuclear war in our lifetimes.]
TaSk Force co-chairS
Senator Charles Robb
Former U.S. Representative from
Ambassador Eric Edelman
Former Under Secretary
Secretary Dan Glickman
Founder of Energy Policy Research
Former Assistant Secretary of State
provided valuable commentary and insight. Robert Kagan helped shape the report
by asking pointed questions and offering thoughtful comments. We are indebted to
Michael Rubin for his extensive edits and comments in the drafting of the report.
A GBU-31 bunker-buster bomb.
A bipartisan US policy group wants to provide Israel with 200 additional bunker-buster bombs to increase the credibility of a military strike aimed at thwarting Iran’s nuclear program.
The proposal is part of a report issued today by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Project, a non-profit research group in Washington.
The group, led by former Democratic Senator Charles Robb of Virginia and retired General Charles Wald, a former deputy commander of US European Command, called for providing Israel 200 GBU-31 bunker-buster bombs and two or three KC-135 aerial refueling tankers. Israel already has about a dozen of the tankers needed to enable Israeli warplanes to strike targets in Iran, according to the report.
“The pressure on Iran to negotiate in good faith will be maximised to the extent Iran believes that not just the United States, but also Israel, is capable of and prepared to deliver a crippling blow to its nuclear program,” the group said.
A more credible military threat from Israel is required, because Iran “could have the capacity to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear device in as little as two months” and “develop nuclear weapons capability” this year, according to the report.
“This program is the most immediate national-security threat to the United States,” Robb said in presenting the report at a news conference.
“While we do not advocate an Israeli military strike, we believe a more credible Israeli threat can only increase the pressure on Iran to negotiate,” Wald said in a written statement.
The report was issued as policy makers in Congress express increased concern about Iran’s nuclear program.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that this will be “a critical year” for preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address last month, said he will “take no options off the table” to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.
To thwart Iran, the Bipartisan Policy Center endorsed a “triple-track” strategy of diplomacy, economic sanctions, and “credible, visible preparations for a military option of last resort.”
While Israel already has about 100 GBU-28 bunker-buster munitions, the addition of 200 precision-guided GBU-31 bombs — which have a Boeing GPS tail-kit — would increase the likelihood that any strike “would score a direct hit on its target,” the report said.
Alireza Nader, an analyst at the Rand Corporation, who was co- author of a study on Israel and Iran, said sending Israel more bombs would be a mistake.
“It’s actually counterproductive,” Nader said. “It might compel the Iranian government to accelerate the nuclear program. They see a potential weapons capability as a deterrence against the United States and Israel.”
Nader said diplomacy and sanctions are a wiser course, with recent sanctions having “raised the cost of weaponisation for the Islamic Republic” as its economy weakens.
The National Security Project group, while endorsing more sanctions, expressed skepticism about their effectiveness in curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
“Even new ‘crippling’ sanctions are unlikely to threaten the viability of the Iranian regime — the one motivation for Tehran to negotiate in good faith,” its report found.
Other members of the National Security Project task force include Dan Glickman, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Ambassador Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary of defence for policy; retired General Ron Keys, a former commander of Air Combat Command; Stephen Rademaker, a former assistant secretary of state for arms control and nonproliferation; and Mortimer Zuckerman, chief executive officer and board chairman of Boston Properties Inc.