"Whiteman Lands Drone Assignment" is the title of T.J. Greaney's piece in the Columbia Daily Tribune. An excerpt of excellent reporting on the details of drone operation appears below.
"The MQ-1 Predator is known as a system, not an aircraft. The system consists of four aircraft with sensors, a ground control station and a Predator Primary Satellite Link, along with operations and maintenance crews deployed for 24-hour operations. Each system is valued at about $20 million.
The basic crew for the Predator includes a pilot, sensor operator and mission intelligence coordinator. The aircraft is equipped with a color nose camera used by the pilot for flight control, a high-resolution TV camera, an infrared camera and other sensors.
Capt. Matthew Reese, public affairs officer for Air Combat Command in Langley, Va., said the team involved in missions is a unique blend of mechanics, pilots and intelligence analysts working in war zones and in the U.S.
'The pilot and sensor operator are only one piece of the puzzle,' Reese said. 'The big picture is that it takes maintainers downrange to keep these in the air, the people who are keeping the mechanical aspects of the birds flying are all downrange.'"
Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.
The purpose of Extraordinary Edition is being revisited for winter, headed into 2013. U.S. foreign policy, Central Asia and the Middle East remain key focal points. Economics and culture on your front doorstep are coming into focus here.