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Cable 984: UAVs in Colombia

Cable 984: UAVs in Colombia

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Published by Andres
This is a 2006 US embassy report outlining the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in military and counternarcotics operations in Colombia.
This is a 2006 US embassy report outlining the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in military and counternarcotics operations in Colombia.

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Published by: Andres on Jul 04, 2012
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07/04/2012

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R 202110Z DEC 06FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1470S E C R E T BOGOTA 011380SUBJECT: UAVS -- "EYES IN THE SKY" FOR COLMILOPERATIONS
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood Reasons:1.4 (b) and (d)
-------Summary-------
¶1. (S) Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a low-tech, low-cost, and low-risk but potentially high-impact new addition to USG-GOC intelligencecooperation in support of counterterror andcounterdrug efforts. Since their arrival in July,a test package of UAVs has provided valuable, real-time aerial video reconnaissance and surveillanceto live COLMIL operations. The UAV program'sprincipal priorities are to support U.S. hostagerescue efforts and to assist COLMIL pursuit of FARCleaders, but it promises to be equally useful forcombat against terrorists and in riverine druginterdiction. As with all intelligencecapabilities, what matters most is its aggressiveapplication by the COLMIL in offensive action. EndSummary.
 
----------------------------------Remote Control Aerial Surveillance----------------------------------
¶2. (C) "ScanEagle" is an unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV) that transmits real-time video imagery as itoverflies targets. Just four feet long with a ten-foot wingspan, it is too small to be seen or heardwhen cruising above 3000 feet, yet from that heightits camera zooms in clearly on vehicles andstructures below. Its operation is basic: aground-based 'pilot' navigates with a 'joy stick'and keyboard; and a technician launches andretrieves the craft without a runway via a deviceoperable in a clearing on land or ship. Operatingcosts are low: each 40-pound craft is able to flyor loiter up to 15 hours nonstop on 5.5 liters offuel, has a transmission range of nearly 70 miles,and can operate in heavy winds and weather.(Detailed specs are publicly available at:http://www.insitu.com/prod scaneagle.cfm.)
-------------------------Job #1: Hostages and HVTs-------------------------
¶3. (S) UAVs have proven useful before, during,and after strikes against the FARC. In theplanning stage, they provide updated reconnaissanceimagery of target sites previously identified byhuman and signals intelligence. Prior to launch,the COLAF deploys UAVs to target sites to assess
 
weather patterns before putting bombers in the air.The UAVs then keep their cameras trained on targetsto ensure identification until planes arrive.Loitering UAVs give commanders a real-time, bird's-eye view of COLMIL assaults, enabling them toreview pilots' accuracy and to provide battledamage assessments. When inserting troops at enemysites, the COLAR uses the UAV for force protectionand as a lookout in case of anti-aircraft threatsto its helicopters. After strikes are over, UAVscan continue site surveillance, watching for enemysurvivors and their escape routes.4. (S) UAVs are better suited to 'point' or'line' reconnaissance (pre-designated sites andstructures or rivers and roads) than to broad, adhoc, 'area' sweeps. They are meant to supplementbut not substitute for humint / sigint leads.Still, opportunistic events can occur. When a UAV'pilot' flew by chance over a truck unloading FARCfighters, and the COLAF happened to have a bomberavailable nearby, an aerial assault was launchedwithin 30 minutes. Similarly, when a UAV caughttwo vehicles being loaded with coca, a helicoptergunship was quickly dispatched and destroyed them.Such stationary targets on open roads are goodcases for UAV use, whereas targets beneath junglecanopy impenetrable to the human eye require moresophisticated platforms.
---------------------Riverine Interdiction---------------------

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