Paris: A dozen Haqqani network leaders are meeting with Mullah Omar in a Pakistani safe house provided courtesy of Pakistan’s intelligence service.
Outside the walled compound romp a few children, chickens and goats. Women are a few dozen meters away, sitting in the shade of a nearby tree. Under today’s rules of engagement — which are classified so we don’t really know — this scenario would probably rule out a strike by a Predator using Hellfire missiles.
The chances of killing noncombatants would just be too high.
Raytheon has developed a weapon it believes would make drones (or UAVs or UAS or whatever the miltiary is calling them these days) much more useful in a wider array of scenarios. Called the Small Tectical Munition — less than two feet long, weighing 13 pounds with a 7-pound warhead — it could be used on the Predator and on even smaller drones, Jean-Charles Lede, director of unmanned systems at Raytheon Missile Systems, told me during a quick interview last week. Lede said the STM would be perfect for just such a scenario as outlined above.
The system is highly accurate, guided by both GPS and by laser. It can explode on contact, in the air or on command.
The Marines have issued an Urgent Needs Statement for a weapon like this, Lede said. While that doesn’t mean the system will get into the budget, it gives Raytheon some chance for the new weapon to be adopted.