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CIA Gets New Powers To Eliminate Bin Laden As UAVs Get Armed

The Predator UAV is now being armed with Hellfire anti tank missiles in case of any unexpected opportunities for termination
 Washington (AFP) Oct 21, 2001
US President George W. Bush has explicitly ordered the CIA to eliminate Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, and has granted the agency sweeping powers to do so, the Washington Post reported Sunday, quoting senior US government officials.

The president also added more than one billion dollars to the agency's war on terrorism, most of it for the new covert action, the report said.

The operation will include what officials said is "unprecedented" coordination between the Central Intelligence Agency and commando and other military units, according to the Post.

Bush has instructed the CIA to attack bin Laden's communications, security apparatus and infrastructure, the paper quoted senior government officials as saying.

A demostraion image of the Predator's aerial reconnaissance capabilities. Source: FAS UAV Images
According to the report, US intelligence agencies have identified new and important specific weaknesses in bin Laden' al-Qaeda network, and these vulnerabilities will be the focus of the lethal covert action.

"The gloves are off," a senior official told the Post. "Lethal operations that were unthinkable pre-September 11 are now underway."

Last spring, US intelligence officials obtained high-quality video of bin Laden but were unable to act on it, the report said.

The video showed the al-Qaeda chief and his entourage at one of his known locations in Afghanistan. But neither the CIA nor the US military had the means to shoot a missile or another weapon at him while he was being photographed.

Since then, the CIA-operated unmanned drone Predator, which normally carries only high-resolution cameras, has been equipped with Hellfire antitank missiles that can be fired at targets of opportunity, according to The Post.

The technology was not operational at the time bin Laden was caught on video, the report said.

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X-47A Pegasus UAV Rolled Out
Dallas - July 30, 2001
Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems Sector (ISS), headquartered here, announced today that it has completed production of the X-47A Pegasus, a company-funded, unmanned air vehicle that will be used to demonstrate aerodynamic qualities suitable for autonomous operation from an aircraft carrier.

Global Hawk Operating Base Selected
Langley AFB (AFPN) July 27, 2001
The US Air Force has selected Beale Air Force Base, Calif., as the first Global Hawk main operating base. Air Force officials recently completed an environmental assessment and found basing 18 of the unmanned aerial vehicles at Beale would result in no significant environmental impacts.

Northrop Grumman Takes Delivery Of VTUAV Prototype From Schweizer Aircraft Company
San Diego - July 9, 2001
Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems Sector (ISS) has taken delivery of a second unmanned prototype of the Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) from Schweizer Aircraft Company, the airframe manufacturer.

Global Hawk Production Ramps Up Begins
San Diego - June 18, 2001
Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems Sector (ISS) has received $20.5 million from the U.S. Air Force for advanced procurement of long-lead parts for the start of low-rate initial production of two Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles and one mission control element.

Global Hawk Clocks Up 1,000 Hours
Edinburgh AFB - May 23, 2001
Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance system developed for the US Air Force has clocked up more than 1,000 flight hours during its 81st flight while taking part in joint US-Australian wargames off eastern Australia.

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