New Military Drone: The Beast of Kandahar

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Photo: Secret DéfensePhoto: Secret DéfenseWired‘s Danger Room has the lowdown on new photos of a long-rumored new unmanned drone the military is supposedly operating in Afghanistan, popularly known as “the Beast of Kandahar”:

Earlier this year, blurry pictures were released by the French magazine Air & Cosmos of a previously unknown stealth drone taken at Kandahar in Afghanistan. The photos, snapped in 2007, prompted a wave of speculation about the classified aircraft. That speculation grew even more intense this week, when a blog belonging to the French newspaper Libération released an even better photograph. But while the new picture may answers some questions, it also creates a heap of new mysteries. Chief among them: Why use such a fancy, stealthy aircraft in Afghanistan? The Taliban have neither the radar to spot the plane, nor the weaponry to shoot it down.

The speculation is that the stealthiness of the drone is intended to allow it to operate undetected in Pakistan or even Iran. Wired has much more, including this:

 

The Beast has also been identified with the covert Desert Prowler program, identified by black ops spotter Trevor Paglen. The Desert Prowler’s patches include the phrases “alone and unafraid” and “alone and on the prowl” as well as the figure of a wraith taken from an album cover by Insane Clown Posse. The wraith is said to represent the Grim Reaper…peculiar as it may seem, Paglen has shown that a remarkable amount of information can be gleaned from Black Ops patches and has written a book on the subject.

Peglen’s book, I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World, is pretty cool, and he has a website where you can get a taste of what it has to offer. It’s a treasure trove for anyone interested in Black Ops, symbology, or random trivia.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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