America's 5 New Future Weapons (That we used to kill Osama)
Number Five: RQ-170 Sentinel Drone
It's about time, weapon designers. Finally a Stealth Drone.
Unmanned drones have skyrocketed in popularity within the armed forces since the Predator was introduced in 1995. Until now the fleet of about 200 Predators in the United States have only lost about four to combat. Many more have been lost to equipment failures, weather, or operator error according to Wikipedia. Then again, they have been flying over not-so-technologically advanced enemies. While most unmanned drones on typical missions cannot be seen with the naked eye, especially the new Reapers, almost all can be detected by radar systems. So what does the United States do when it wants to fly secret missions over an advanced modern Pakistani military (ranked 15th in the world by these guys)?
The quick answer: Satellites. But when even they can't get close enough to gather enough intelligence, the U.S. will send in the RQ-170 Sentinel Drone. Public, we probably shouldn't even know about this. However, a couple of sightings and a resulting acknowledgment in Dec. 2009 made the RQ-170 Sentinel Drone exposed. It is the next logical step in drone technology, and pretty good looking to boot. It is very hard to shoot down any stealth aircraft without extreme luck and perhaps errors in command planning like what happened in Serbia in 1999.
The result is that now the U.S. can spy on just about anyone anywhere and not just with satellites. They had enough confidence in the Sentinel that they repeatedly made appearances in Pakistani airspace. I feel like I haven't been able to hide from the government before, but now I'm sure.
Number 4: Listening Laser Beams
You're a dangerous terrorist sitting in your house with your good friend. You have just turned the T.V. off and you're on your laptop reading some random guy named Cydro's hub. All the while you two are chatting about the weather, the new Corvette you just bought, and the upcoming terrorist attack that you are planning. Cars are going by, a dog is barking, and someone is listening to your conversation with a laser beam.
That's not possible, laser beams are intense concentrated forms of light waves. They can't "hear" my conversation.
Well despite what us people who think cell phones are advanced listening devices, lasers can detect minute vibrations in the glass of windows in order to "hear" what is going on inside. The patterns of the laser reacting to the vibrations is put through a computer which amplifies it in a certain way that makes it audible for the savvy person shining the laser to hear. The CIA people at the advanced operating base spying on Bin Laden used this trick to get closer and help identify the family within the compound. By analyzing the vibrations, says John Pike, analysts could tease out the number of distinct voices. "I can do voice identification to count how many people I'm listening to. If I count 22 people inside the building and 21 outside the building, I know I've got somebody who never goes outdoors." John Pike is the director of the private national security group GlobalSecurity.org.
I guess if Osama was bumming around his house all day he had plenty of time to come up with devastating terrorist attacks. With no internet or cell phone, that's about all that he had to do besides run Al Qaeda and satisfy all those wives of his.
Number 3: Incredibly trained war dogs
But I have to give this hub some content, and I'd like to point out now we found out from an information leak that the dog's name was Cairo. Cairo also had a pretty cool outfit, and no that doesn't serve the same purpose as your dog's Christmas outfit. If you take a look at that picture to the right, that's some crazy looking body armor (It can stop 9mm rounds). I feel like it came straight out of Terminator or I, Robot.
The gist is that dogs (especially German Shepherds) provide some useful advantages in a high-profile assassination. One, they are able to move around in stealthy ways. Two, they can detect explosives. Considering Osama's pad had many false doors and was constructed almost like a maze, there was a high probability of rigged explosives inside. Three, they are "highly trained." What does that mean? Well, according to mslizzee, they can wear oxygen masks to jump out of planes with. They can receive orders through ear buds, and use infrared cameras. I wouldn't call that highly trained, I would call that highly educated (I think I can only do about one of those things).
Anyway, I would like to give a quick response to the typical "this is atrocious, dogs don't deserve to be put on the front lines" argument. The typical rebuttal is that these dogs save human lives (and that should be enough). I can offer a little more congealment to that argument. These dogs are offered constant attention and companionship in order to keep them highly trained. They live good lives where they are exercised, fed right, and mentally exercised. All of these things are not always present in the life of a house dog (I'm looking at you, Michael Vick). Plus, its not like we're training them to suicidally detonate the explosives that they find. I guess I'm done with my little rant.
Number 2: Cell Phone Monitoring
All it took to find Bin Laden was a very brief phone call 90 miles away from Bin Laden's compound from a courier. Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the main courier for Osama bin Laden, placed a battery in his cell phone and called a friend (who happened to be on our watch list anyway). At the time we were unsure that al-Kuwaiti was even his real name or if he even existed. Most of the information on this guy came from Guantanamo Bay from mixed accounts and purposeful lies.
So let's put this in perspective. I don't know much about the technology of cell phone monitoring, however to me this is impressive. We know the conversation was very brief. It took place on foreign soil and in remote locations. It probably did not contain any key words that would immediately flag it for surveillance. The only way it could possibly have been pre-targeted for monitoring is because it was with a U.S. targeted terrorist. How the U.S. identified the call as useful, recorded it, determined the location and appearance of al-Kuwaiti, followed al-Kuwaiti back to Bin Laden's compound, all within a matter of minutes, I'm baffled. Correct me on any of this in the comments section, please. In the meantime, I'm going to read Orwell's 1984 and deliberately not piss off the United States government.
Number 1: Stealth Helicopter(s?)
The gist is that the U.S. had a top secret black hawk helicopter that no one knew about. Its main feature: stealth. The only reason why we know now that it wasn't a conventional helicopter used in the raid is because one crash landed and was blown to bits by our own Navy Seals. To me, the first deployed stealth helicopter (that we know of) is just about as exciting news as when we found out about the F-117 Nighthawk.
After researching a fairly large amount on the subject, I can say that Special Operations units at least in the United States have a one-up on their capabilities world-wide. Once again, Pakistan has an impressive military (they have to have it as much as they piss off India). In order to elude the Pakistani military fairly deep into their own territory, one has to have an impressive stealth regiment to simply fly through radar zones and conduct clandestine operation. Suggestions for further reading: here is a great article on wired.com on the subject.
I'm no conspiracy theorist, but readers, after researching I personally am almost positive of something. The released story goes that typical Chinooks were flown in to support the raid. Why have everything else (RQ-170, MH-XX) be stealth-ed up when you're flying in huge helicopters alongside them? Readers, I believe that there is a military helicopter out there that is basically a stealth Chinook. I'm not the only one who thinks that, either. Maybe the low-flying route taken by the helicopters is enough to conceal them, but I think the Chinook would have been a huge risk to the mission because it has such a large radar cross section. Plus Boeing (the makers of the Chinook) has been apart of stealth helicopter research before. I can understand this is very disputable, but why would the government have any reason to inform us of a top secret helicopter if they don't have to? The Chinooks obviously did not crash in Osama's front yard.
UPDATE: June 28, 2011
It appears that there are rumors that the Navy Seals also used night vision contact lenses in the raid. Read more here:
More by this Author
We all want superpowers, don't we? Find out exactly how far we've come in making the Ironman suit a reality.
There's no question hacking will remain in news headlines for the rest of our lifetimes. This article examines the most powerful known computer security threats out there.
Some of the coolest, most fascinating organisms are just now being discovered by scientists, and not only at the bottom of the ocean, either.