Drones through the years | CtPost.com

  • Opponents of the U.S. program to target suspected Islamic militants with unmanned drones have announced a month-long series of protests planned for April.Meanwhile, a new National Center for Policy Analysis study calls for exploring the civilian, commercial and scientific applications of drones, while taking into account privacy concerns.These two stories illustrate how big a deal drones have become over the past decade or so. But unmanned aerial vehicles have been around a lot longer than that. Click on for a look at drones going back to World War II. Photo: Getty Images / Getty Images
    Opponents of the U.S. program to target suspected Islamic militants with unmanned drones have announced a month-long series of protests planned for April.Meanwhile, a new National Center for Policy Analysis study calls for exploring the civilian, commercial and scientific applications of drones, while taking into account privacy concerns.

    These two stories illustrate how big a deal drones have become over the past decade or so. But unmanned aerial vehicles have been around a lot longer than that. Click on for a look at drones going back to World War II.
    Photo: Getty Images

    Opponents of the U.S. program to target suspected Islamic militants…

  • View of an experimental, radar pilotless aircraft, or drone, nestled under the wing of a PN4Y2 naval aircraft in 1945. Photo: PhotoQuest, Getty Images / Archive Photos View of an experimental, radar pilotless aircraft, or drone, nestled under the wing of a PN4Y2 naval aircraft in 1945. Photo: PhotoQuest, Getty Images

    View of an experimental, radar pilotless aircraft, or drone,…

  • While today's drones launch missiles at suspected militants, early versions were more often targets in missile tests. Here, a redeye missile closes in on a radio-controlled drone in 1966. Photo: US Navy, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image / Time & Life Pictures While today’s drones launch missiles at suspected militants, early versions were more often targets in missile tests. Here, a redeye missile closes in on a radio-controlled drone in 1966.
    Photo: US Navy, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    While today’s drones launch missiles at suspected militants, early…

  • Israel Aircraft Industries workers assemble a drone in 1989. Photo: David Rubinger, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image / David Rubinger Israel Aircraft Industries workers assemble a drone in 1989.
    Photo: David Rubinger, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Israel Aircraft Industries workers assemble a drone in 1989.

  • Lockheed Martin built the DarkStar High Altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to provide battlefield commanders and intelligence agencies with reconnaissance data. Photo: Carla Thomas, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image / Time Life Pictures Lockheed Martin built the DarkStar High Altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to provide battlefield commanders and intelligence agencies with reconnaissance data.
    Photo: Carla Thomas, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Lockheed Martin built the DarkStar High Altitude Unmanned Aerial…

  • Russian army soldiers prepare a pilotless drone aircraft at a secret base near the Chechen capital Grozny in 1999. The Russians used drones to search for Chechen rebel positions. Photo: Mark H. Milstein, Getty Images / Getty Images North America Russian army soldiers prepare a pilotless drone aircraft at a secret base near the Chechen capital Grozny in 1999. The Russians used drones to search for Chechen rebel positions.
    Photo: Mark H. Milstein, Getty Images

    Russian army soldiers prepare a pilotless drone aircraft at a…

  • Northrop Gumman's 44-foot-long Global Hawk first flew in 1998. In 2008, Global Hawk set the endurance record for a full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft, flying for 33.1 hours at altitudes up to 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo: Mai, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image / /Mai Northrop Gumman’s 44-foot-long Global Hawk first flew in 1998. In 2008, Global Hawk set the endurance record for a full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft, flying for 33.1 hours at altitudes up to 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
    Photo: Mai, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Northrop Gumman’s 44-foot-long Global Hawk first flew in 1998. In…

  • Onlookers move in for a closer look at Boeing's new Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle on September 27, 2000 during an unveiling ceremony at the Boeing Company plant in St. Louis, Mo. Photo: Bill Greenblatt, Getty Images / Getty Images North America Onlookers move in for a closer look at Boeing’s new Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle on September 27, 2000 during an unveiling ceremony at the Boeing Company plant in St. Louis, Mo. Photo: Bill Greenblatt, Getty Images

    Onlookers move in for a closer look at Boeing’s new Unmanned Combat…

  • An Israeli flag flutters next to an Harpy IAI-MBT Attack Drone as part of the Israeli display during the 44th Paris Air Show on June 21, 2001. Photo: FRANCOIS MORI, AFP/Getty Images / 2001 Getty Images An Israeli flag flutters next to an Harpy IAI-MBT Attack Drone as part of the Israeli display during the 44th Paris Air Show on June 21, 2001. Photo: FRANCOIS MORI, AFP/Getty Images

    An Israeli flag flutters next to an Harpy IAI-MBT Attack Drone as…

  • U.S. Marines watch a demonstration of the Dragon Eye drone on February 16, 2003, in Kuwait. The drone can fly over enemy lines for one hour, sending back infrared real time images. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg, Getty Images / Robert Nickelsberg U.S. Marines watch a demonstration of the Dragon Eye drone on February 16, 2003, in Kuwait. The drone can fly over enemy lines for one hour, sending back infrared real time images. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg, Getty Images

    U.S. Marines watch a demonstration of the Dragon Eye drone on…

  • Iraqi officials show off their 7.45-meter-wingspan Remotely Piloted Vehicle 30A, or the "Jerusalem 10," to members of the news media on March 12, 2003 in Baghdad. Iraq declared the drone in a January 15, 2003 report, but with a 4.4-meter wingspan, an error that Iraqis say was a "typing mistake." Though the drone looked like a science project, with tin foil and duct tape holding it together, U.S. officials building a case for war called it a "smoking gun." Photo: Scott Peterson, Getty Images / Scott Peterson Iraqi officials show off their 7.45-meter-wingspan Remotely Piloted Vehicle 30A, or the “Jerusalem 10,” to members of the news media on March 12, 2003 in Baghdad. Iraq declared the drone in a January 15, 2003 report, but with a 4.4-meter wingspan, an error that Iraqis say was a “typing mistake.” Though the drone looked like a science project, with tin foil and duct tape holding it together, U.S. officials building a case for war called it a “smoking gun.” Photo: Scott Peterson, Getty Images

    Iraqi officials show off their 7.45-meter-wingspan Remotely Piloted…

  • In September 2003, a U.S. Army Hunter drone killed two suspected roadside bombers in northern Iraq by dropping a bomb on them, "a first in army aviation history," according to the Army. Photo: ROMEO GACAD, AFP/Getty Images / 2007 AFP In September 2003, a U.S. Army Hunter drone killed two suspected roadside bombers in northern Iraq by dropping a bomb on them, “a first in army aviation history,” according to the Army.
    Photo: ROMEO GACAD, AFP/Getty Images

    In September 2003, a U.S. Army Hunter drone killed two suspected…

  • The Eagle, a drone made by European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) is shown at the Paris Air Show on June 17. 2003. Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN, AFP/Getty Images / 2003 AFP The Eagle, a drone made by European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) is shown at the Paris Air Show on June 17. 2003. Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN, AFP/Getty Images

    The Eagle, a drone made by European Aeronautic Defense and Space…

  • In this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, airmen with the 64th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron move an RQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at Tallil Air Base in Iraq. Photo: U.S. Air Force, Getty Images / 2003 Getty Images In this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, airmen with the 64th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron move an RQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at Tallil Air Base in Iraq. Photo: U.S. Air Force, Getty Images

    In this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force,…

  • German soldiers stand next to a drone prior to its launch north of Kabul, Afghanistan on Oct. 14, 2003. Photo: AFP, AFP/Getty Images / 2003 AFP German soldiers stand next to a drone prior to its launch north of Kabul, Afghanistan on Oct. 14, 2003.
    Photo: AFP, AFP/Getty Images

    German soldiers stand next to a drone prior to its launch north of…

  • This prototype remote control helicopter being developed for use by the Israeli military was stolen on November 9, 2003, an act described as "industrial espionage." Photo: Getty Images / 2003 Getty Images This prototype remote control helicopter being developed for use by the Israeli military was stolen on November 9, 2003, an act described as “industrial espionage.” Photo: Getty Images

    This prototype remote control helicopter being developed for use by…

  • This undated handout from Elbit Systems Ltd. shows a Hermes 450 unmanned airborn vehicle in flight. Photo: Getty Images / 2004 Getty Images This undated handout from Elbit Systems Ltd. shows a Hermes 450 unmanned airborn vehicle in flight.
    Photo: Getty Images

    This undated handout from Elbit Systems Ltd. shows a Hermes 450…

  • French soldiers set up a drone on a vehicle on July 14, 2004, prior the Bastille Day parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris. Photo: MEHDI FEDOUACH, AFP/Getty Images / 2004 AFP French soldiers set up a drone on a vehicle on July 14, 2004, prior the Bastille Day parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris. Photo: MEHDI FEDOUACH, AFP/Getty Images

    French soldiers set up a drone on a vehicle on July 14, 2004, prior…

  • A militiaman loyal to Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr displays a U.S. military drone on Aug. 22, 2004. The militia claimed to have shot down the drone the previous day. The Arabic writing on the wing of the drone reads: "Equipment of the American army." Photo: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE, AFP/Getty Images / 2004 AFP A militiaman loyal to Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr displays a U.S. military drone on Aug. 22, 2004. The militia claimed to have shot down the drone the previous day. The Arabic writing on the wing of the drone reads: “Equipment of the American army.” Photo: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE, AFP/Getty Images

    A militiaman loyal to Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr displays a…

  • Northrup Grumman's mock-up of the company's X-47B drone is shown with its bomb doors open and aircraft carrier tailhook deployed. Photo: John B. Carnett, Popular Science Via Getty Images / Bonnier Corporation Northrup Grumman’s mock-up of the company’s X-47B drone is shown with its bomb doors open and aircraft carrier tailhook deployed.
    Photo: John B. Carnett, Popular Science Via Getty Images

    Northrup Grumman’s mock-up of the company’s X-47B drone is shown…

  • Pilots control U.S. Predator drones flying over Afghanistan from a base in Las Vegas on May 2, 2006. Photo: Veronique De Viguerie, Getty Images / 2006 Veronique de Viguerie Pilots control U.S. Predator drones flying over Afghanistan from a base in Las Vegas on May 2, 2006. Photo: Veronique De Viguerie, Getty Images

    Pilots control U.S. Predator drones flying over Afghanistan from a…

  • In 2006, U.S. Customs and Border Protection deployed new MQ-9 Predator B drones to patrol the southern border of the United Sates. Photo: Gary Williams, Getty Images / 2006 Getty Images In 2006, U.S. Customs and Border Protection deployed new MQ-9 Predator B drones to patrol the southern border of the United Sates. Photo: Gary Williams, Getty Images

    In 2006, U.S. Customs and Border Protection deployed new MQ-9…

  • A model of a drone fighter plane is displayed at the 6th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition on October 31, 2006, in Zhuhai, China. Photo: ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images / 2006 ChinaFotoPress A model of a drone fighter plane is displayed at the 6th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition on October 31, 2006, in Zhuhai, China. Photo: ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images

    A model of a drone fighter plane is displayed at the 6th China…

  • In this handout photo released by the Hamas media office January 11, 2007, a member of the Al-Qassam brigade, the military wing of Hamas Movement, poses with an Israeli spy drone which Hamas says was captured in the Gaza strip. Photo: Handout, Getty Images / 2007 Getty Images In this handout photo released by the Hamas media office January 11, 2007, a member of the Al-Qassam brigade, the military wing of Hamas Movement, poses with an Israeli spy drone which Hamas says was captured in the Gaza strip. Photo: Handout, Getty Images

    In this handout photo released by the Hamas media office January…

  • In this photo provided by the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF's first long-range drone, named the Heron, comes in for landing March 7, 2007 at Palmachim air base in central Israel. Photo: Getty Images / 2007 IDF In this photo provided by the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF’s first long-range drone, named the Heron, comes in for landing March 7, 2007 at Palmachim air base in central Israel.
    Photo: Getty Images

    In this photo provided by the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF’s…

  • A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone takes off August 8, 2007 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nev. The Reaper was the Air Force's first "hunter-killer" unmanned aerial vehicle, designed to engage time-sensitive targets on the battlefield as well as provide intelligence and surveillance. The jet-fighter sized Reapers are 36 feet long with 66-foot wingspans and can fly up to 14 hours fully loaded with laser-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. They can fly twice as fast and high as the smaller MQ-1 Predators, reaching speeds of 300 mph at an altitude of up to 50,000 feet. Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images / 2007 Getty Images A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone takes off August 8, 2007 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nev. The Reaper was the Air Force’s first “hunter-killer” unmanned aerial vehicle, designed to engage time-sensitive targets on the battlefield as well as provide intelligence and surveillance. The jet-fighter sized Reapers are 36 feet long with 66-foot wingspans and can fly up to 14 hours fully loaded with laser-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. They can fly twice as fast and high as the smaller MQ-1 Predators, reaching speeds of 300 mph at an altitude of up to 50,000 feet.
    Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

    A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone takes off August 8, 2007 at Creech Air…

  • Michael Martinez, airframe and power plant mechanic with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., inspects an MQ-9 Reaper next to the aircraft's targeting pod during a pre-flight check August 8, 2007 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nev. Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images / 2007 Getty Images Michael Martinez, airframe and power plant mechanic with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., inspects an MQ-9 Reaper next to the aircraft’s targeting pod during a pre-flight check August 8, 2007 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nev. Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

    Michael Martinez, airframe and power plant mechanic with General…

  • Photo taken on October 15, 2008 shows Elsa, the French National Police drone, during its presentation to European counterparts at a conference in Saint-Cyr-au-Mont-d'Or. Photo: FRED DUFOUR, AFP/Getty Images / 2008 AFP Photo taken on October 15, 2008 shows Elsa, the French National Police drone, during its presentation to European counterparts at a conference in Saint-Cyr-au-Mont-d’Or.
    Photo: FRED DUFOUR, AFP/Getty Images

    Photo taken on October 15, 2008 shows Elsa, the French National…

  • A French Sperwer SDTI drone lands after an observation mission on December 2008 in a French forward military base in the East of Afghanistan. Photo: JOEL SAGET, AFP/Getty Images / 2008 AFP A French Sperwer SDTI drone lands after an observation mission on December 2008 in a French forward military base in the East of Afghanistan. Photo: JOEL SAGET, AFP/Getty Images

    A French Sperwer SDTI drone lands after an observation mission on…

  • An attendee photographs an A.R. Drone helicopter by Parrot as it flies overhead during a press event for the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show January 6, 2010 in Las Vegas. The device is controlled wirelessly from an iPhone. Photo: ROBYN BECK, AFP/Getty Images / 2010 AFP An attendee photographs an A.R. Drone helicopter by Parrot as it flies overhead during a press event for the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show January 6, 2010 in Las Vegas. The device is controlled wirelessly from an iPhone. Photo: ROBYN BECK, AFP/Getty Images

    An attendee photographs an A.R. Drone helicopter by Parrot as it…

  • Chinese police unveiled its "first unmanned opium reconnaissance plane" in Beijing on June 4, 2010. Photo: STR, AFP/Getty Images / 2010 AFP Chinese police unveiled its “first unmanned opium reconnaissance plane” in Beijing on June 4, 2010. Photo: STR, AFP/Getty Images

    Chinese police unveiled its “first unmanned opium reconnaissance…

  • A man demonstrates an IT 180 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with vertical take off and landing capability on June 13, 2010 in Paris. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN, AFP/Getty Images / 2010 AFP A man demonstrates an IT 180 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with vertical take off and landing capability on June 13, 2010 in Paris. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN, AFP/Getty Images

    A man demonstrates an IT 180 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with vertical…

  • A U.S. Army soldier tries to launch a drone on September 4, 2010 in Afghanistan. Photo: PATRICK BAZ, AFP/Getty Images / 2010 AFP A U.S. Army soldier tries to launch a drone on September 4, 2010 in Afghanistan.
    Photo: PATRICK BAZ, AFP/Getty Images

    A U.S. Army soldier tries to launch a drone on September 4, 2010 in…

  • Japan Advanced Defense Technology Centre Engineer Fumiyuki Sato displays his spherical observation drone in Tokyo on July 22, 2011. The drone can fly down narrow alleys, hover on the spot, take off vertically and bounce along the ground. Photo: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA, AFP/Getty Images / 2011 AFP Japan Advanced Defense Technology Centre Engineer Fumiyuki Sato displays his spherical observation drone in Tokyo on July 22, 2011. The drone can fly down narrow alleys, hover on the spot, take off vertically and bounce along the ground. Photo: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA, AFP/Getty Images

    Japan Advanced Defense Technology Centre Engineer Fumiyuki Sato…

  • Pakistani security personnel examine a crashed American surveillance drone in Chaman, Pakistan on August 25, 2011. The American surveillance drone crashed near a paramilitary base close to the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said. Photo: ASGHAR ACHAKZAI, AFP/Getty Images / 2011 AFP Pakistani security personnel examine a crashed American surveillance drone in Chaman, Pakistan on August 25, 2011. The American surveillance drone crashed near a paramilitary base close to the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said. Photo: ASGHAR ACHAKZAI, AFP/Getty Images

    Pakistani security personnel examine a crashed American…

  • Supporters of the Pakistani politician Imran Khan and chief of Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party, burn a replica drone as they shout slogans during protest rally in Islamabad on October 28, 2011 against the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistani tribal regions. Photo: AAMIR QURESHI, AFP/Getty Images / 2011 AFP Supporters of the Pakistani politician Imran Khan and chief of Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party, burn a replica drone as they shout slogans during protest rally in Islamabad on October 28, 2011 against the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistani tribal regions.
    Photo: AAMIR QURESHI, AFP/Getty Images

    Supporters of the Pakistani politician Imran Khan and chief of…

  • An Iranian boy holds a portrait of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali khamenei as he walks past a replica of the captured U.S. RQ-170 drone on display next to the Azadi (Freedom) tower during the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Tehran on February 11, 2012. Photo: ATTA KENARE, AFP/Getty Images / 2012 AFP An Iranian boy holds a portrait of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali khamenei as he walks past a replica of the captured U.S. RQ-170 drone on display next to the Azadi (Freedom) tower during the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Tehran on February 11, 2012.
    Photo: ATTA KENARE, AFP/Getty Images

    An Iranian boy holds a portrait of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali…

  • An Iranian couple hold a model of the captured US RQ-170 drone during the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran on February 11, 2012. Photo: ATTA KENARE, AFP/Getty Images / 2012 AFP An Iranian couple hold a model of the captured US RQ-170 drone during the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran on February 11, 2012.
    Photo: ATTA KENARE, AFP/Getty Images

    An Iranian couple hold a model of the captured US RQ-170 drone…

  • A French firefighter holds a French Fly-n-Sense drone before its take off on July 12, 2012 on a test flight. The drone is designed to enable a real-time monitoring of forest fires. Photo: PIERRE ANDRIEU, AFP/Getty Images / 2012 AFP A French firefighter holds a French Fly-n-Sense drone before its take off on July 12, 2012 on a test flight. The drone is designed to enable a real-time monitoring of forest fires.
    Photo: PIERRE ANDRIEU, AFP/Getty Images

    A French firefighter holds a French Fly-n-Sense drone before its…

  • Two engineers of the Aircraft Repair Plant assemble a "Filin" (Eagle-owl) drone on August 9, 2012 in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: ALEXEY GROMOV, AFP/Getty Images / 2012 AFP Two engineers of the Aircraft Repair Plant assemble a “Filin” (Eagle-owl) drone on August 9, 2012 in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: ALEXEY GROMOV, AFP/Getty Images

    Two engineers of the Aircraft Repair Plant assemble a “Filin”…

  • Germany's Rheinmetall displays a Tactical Reconnaissance drone at the ILA Berlin Air Show on September 11, 2012 in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany. Photo: Ulrich Baumgarten, U. Baumgarten Via Getty Images / 2012 Ulrich Baumgarten Germany’s Rheinmetall displays a Tactical Reconnaissance drone at the ILA Berlin Air Show on September 11, 2012 in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany. Photo: Ulrich Baumgarten, U. Baumgarten Via Getty Images

    Germany’s Rheinmetall displays a Tactical Reconnaissance drone at…

  • An employee of ENAC company handles Blender drones on September 26, 2012 in Merignac near Bordeaux, France, during the "UAV Show Europe." Photo: PIERRE ANDRIEU, AFP/Getty Images / 2012 AFP An employee of ENAC company handles Blender drones on September 26, 2012 in Merignac near Bordeaux, France, during the “UAV Show Europe.” Photo: PIERRE ANDRIEU, AFP/Getty Images

    An employee of ENAC company handles Blender drones on September 26,…

  • The nEUROn, an experimental Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle developed under a European consortium led by French defence group Dassault is put on show at the Dassault factory in Istres on December 19, 2012. The drone is expected to remain in testing for several years before a combat version is released sometime in 2015. Photo: BORIS HORVAT, AFP/Getty Images / 2013 AFP The nEUROn, an experimental Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle developed under a European consortium led by French defence group Dassault is put on show at the Dassault factory in Istres on December 19, 2012. The drone is expected to remain in testing for several years before a combat version is released sometime in 2015.
    Photo: BORIS HORVAT, AFP/Getty Images

    The nEUROn, an experimental Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle developed…

Did Russia Just Throw Assad Under the Bus?

English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar...

English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. Русский: СОЧИ, БОЧАРОВ РУЧЕЙ. С Президентом Сирии Башаром Асадом. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Western press accounts jumped on suggestions today that Russia may be backing away from the beleaguered regime of Bashar al-Assad. According to reported remarks of Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s point-person for Middle East diplomacy, “As far as the victory of the opposition is concerned, it cannot be ruled out, and, to our regret, one should face the facts. The tendency is right in that direction, the regime and the authorities are increasingly losing control over an increasing territory.

 

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/13/did_russia_just_throw_assad_under_the_bus

While Increasingly Anti-Western, Russia Needs Foreign Military Technology | Jamestown Foundation

Last week, US federal prosecutors announced they have broken up a network of Russian agents that allegedly supplied the Russian military, intelligence agencies and defense industry with smuggled US-made electronic and microchip components. A Houston company, Arc Electronics Inc., allegedly illegally shipped some $50 million worth of electronic components to Russia. Its executive, Alexander Fishenko, was arrested together with seven other former Russian and other former Soviet republic citizens. All, apparently, are today naturalized US citizens, and some also hold valid Russian passports. Three other suspects have avoided arrest, apparently hiding in Russia. The US Department of Commerce announced it blacklisted 156 foreign companies and individuals allegedly connected to the smuggling ring. Of them, 119 are Russian. The US-made electronic components were allegedly used in military radar and surveillance systems, in missile guidance and detonation triggers (RIA Novosti, October 4).

Spying has for a long time been an occupational hazard in East-West relations. Spy scandals often make the front page, but typically fade away without changing much in the overall picture since spies are a replaceable commodity. In June 2010, a group of ten Russian “illegal” or “sleeper” spies were detained by the FBI in the United States and swapped for four Russian citizens who were serving long sentences, convicted of being Western spies. As “sleepers,” the agents did not engage in any illegal activity, awaiting orders to activate, which never came (see EDM, July 1, 2010). One of the ten—a redheaded beauty named Anna Chapman—became a TV anchor at one of Moscow’s second-tier television channels, but did not evolve into a first class political or news celebrity. The rest of the “illegals” melted into obscurity, as regular spies are trained to do. The Russian SVR intelligence service most likely began working on deploying a replacement of the lost assets, while the Barack Obama administration continued the policy of the “reset” in Washington’s relations with Moscow.
The Houston arrests may have much more serious repercussions. Arc Electronic was clearly not “sleeping,” but allegedly collecting highly essential components for the Russian military. If the US authorities are seriously intent on hampering the access of the Russian military, defense industry and intelligence services to American-made microchips and other high-tech electronic merchandise—including components involving US patents and knowhow made in third countries—this may critically impede President’s Vladimir Putin’s much hyped multi-billion dollar rearmament program.
More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the Russian defense industry virtually cannot produce any modern sophisticated weaponry without Western-made components and materials, with some essential parts coming directly from the United States. Last month, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the defense industry Dmitry Rogozin, speaking at a meeting of the governmental Military-Industrial Commission, demanded that “more must be done” to replace foreign-made electronic components used in Russian defense production. Plans have been enacted to develop Russian-made electronic components in cooperation with Belarus, but, according to Rogozin, at present the “list of foreign-made electronic components” allowed to be used in Russian weapons is constantly growing and “this is intolerable” (RIA Novosti, September 19).
A top-level source within the Russian defense industry, speaking on condition of anonymity, previously told Jamestown that high-resolution radars needed for the most modern Russian fighter jets, as well as anti-aircraft and ballistic missile defense systems require US-made components. As Rogozin confirms, the “list” of such components is approved by the Defense Ministry and they are procured in the West with the help of the intelligence services. Despite the overall worsening of relations, Western governments in recent years seem to have turned a blind eye to growing Russian purchases of high-tech military-connected equipment.
Last week, Rogozin denied that the alleged Russian agents from Arc Electronics or other blacklisted entities purchased anything for the Russian defense industry illegally in the United States. At the same time Rogozin declared: “We thank the Americans—the latest scandal is a reality test to those in Russia who believe in defense cooperation with foreigners.” Plans have been drafted to consolidate the Russian electronics industry to make the needed microchips, added Rogozin (RIA Novosti, October 5). The ruling Russian bureaucracy surely likes to “consolidate assets” and build state-funded elaborate corporations, but in most cases is too corrupt to make them work properly or manufacture cutting edge military products without constant Western supply and support.
After Putin’s third presidential term began last May, Russian policy and official rhetoric has been increasingly anti-Western. Russia has refused full access to Western observers to visit its strategic military exercises and adamantly refuses to resume participating in the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE), which Moscow abandoned in 2007. Speaking this week in the parliament’s Federation Council, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused NATO of building up forces in Europe and running military exercises that threaten Russia. “It does not make any sense to work together on conventional arms control,” added Lavrov (RIA Novosti, October 10). Last week, speaking to Russian soldiers based in Tajikistan, Putin announced that NATO enlargement is threatening Russia and “we will build our defense policy to cope with the threat” (www.kremlin.ru, October 5).
Russia has also ordered the aid agency USAID to end its operations in Russia (see EDM, September 20). This week it became known Russia wants to curtail the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program also known as Nunn–Lugar, based on a 1992 US law sponsored by Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. The CTR has spent $5 billion in Russia since 1992 to help dismantle dangerous weapons. Now the Russian authorities say that CTR is giving the US too much insight into the Russian military (Kommersant, October 10). The Putin regime is rapidly transforming into a reclusive and repressive dictatorship, increasingly anti-Western and aggressive. Russian weapons, modernized with Western help, have been exported to Syria, Iran, Venezuela and China. Obama’s policy of the “reset” has failed to influence Putin’s policies in any significant way.
During the Cold War, the West initiated the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls or COCOM, which imposed strict arms and double-use technology embargos on Russia and its allies. In 1996 COCOM was replaced by the Wassenaar Arrangement—a much weaker control regime that is not aimed against Russia at all, since it is a full member itself. But it is still unclear whether last week’s arrests in Houston are a game-changer that could develop into significant effort by the West to again enforce stricter high-tech export controls on Russia, as Moscow fears.
–Pavel Felgenhauer