Whether it was in or out of international airspace, the military drone belonging to the taxpayers of the United States of America — the one shot down by Iran this past Thursday — is valued at approximately $220 million.
A report published by Wired magazine indicates the monster-size RA-Q Global Hawk surveillance drone was an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) with the capacity to travel roughly 32-plus hours.
It was equipped with technological marvels engineered by Northrop Grumman’s finest military-oriented designers and builders.
Our Global Hawk also had the ability to soar at 60,000 feet and proceed a distance of 12,000 nautical miles while propelling its takeoff weight of 16-plus tons.
Now, Iran is claiming the Global Hawk is a messy mass after it obliterated the craft from the sky and fished it from the sea. (Shown at the top of this article beside President Donald Trump is Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani.)
Iran maintains its claim that our drone was on their side of the court; that debate is still staged.
Despite maritime coordinates and the precision-crafted instrumentation aboard our Global Hawk drone, chronicling its whereabouts at any given time across jurisdictional markers and territorial lines, exactly where the U.S.-owned drone flew remains the center of debate.
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Indeed, coordinates are not a new factor in answering global positioning of things.
And it sounds as if this incredible airborne computer had threading-a-needle accuracy. So we shall see.
As Lily Hay Newman wrote for Wired, “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Thursday that the Northrop Grumman-made Global Hawk — part of a multibillion-dollar program that dates back to 2001 — had entered Iranian airspace and crashed in Iranian waters; U.S. Central Command confirmed the time and general location of the attack, but insists that the drone was flying in international airspace.”
"CENTCOM confirms that a U.S. Navy drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19, 2019https://t.co/VTKoYtyf0u
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) June 20, 2019
The words “general location” stir some curiosity.
When I were a street cop, only near the last leg of my career did law enforcement acquire the capability to relatively isolate 911 callers who disconnected their cellphone-made call before speaking.
Nowadays, coordinates of a cellphone’s location are provided via GPS satellite transmissions. (Hardline phones automatically generated an ANI, or Automatic Number Identifier, and an ALI, or automatic location identifier, so we coppers knew where to provide help.)
Cellphones were a phantom until GPS technology became an increasingly useful thing. It didn’t always prevail in terms of locating a particular caller having a purported emergency, but it did get us in the general location. Once on scene, good old-fashioned snooping for things out-of-sync became the fix, if any.
Further, many American law enforcement agencies have attached GPS transponders on their police fleet. At any given time, my department’s command staff knew exactly where I was and how fast I might have been traversing through the city. Most imperative GPS-tracking devices in police work enable the calvary to save the day (one hopes) when an officer inexplicably goes silent when beckoned via radio/in-car laptop/cellphone.
We’ve seen such cases when back-up officers arrive at the location of an empty police car and find a comrade downed by gunfire. It’s ugly, but it helps locate incapacitated cops and begins sewing puzzle pieces together.
GPS satellites enable much nowadays, making it very likely that one knows precisely where one’s property is. Heck, lost or stolen cellphones have the embedded mechanisms whereby an app can help locate the whereabouts of the talking and texting device.
So it is highly likely we knew where we were.
As the folks at Wired explained, “[Global Hawks] have no offensive capabilities; their value lies in their ability to combine range, vantage point, and persistence with powerful surveillance sensors to monitor ground or maritime activity in great detail.”
This drone was no transistor radio; it was an aerospace marvel missioned for national security purposes.
And it was felled by another nation, which appears to be sparking its usual adversarial stance, since things are not going its way.
Stephen Owsinski, an OpsLens content manager and contributor, is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. This OpsLens piece is used by permission.
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