Sunday, March 10, 2013

Drones 101

Dylan Matthews explains the power of drones:
Predator drones can carry up to two Hellfire missiles. Those have warheads of about 20 pounds, which are designed to pierce tank armor; their damage outside of the vehicle targeted is limited. An alternative warhead, which manufacturer Lockheed Martin touts as featuring “high lethality and minimum collateral damage,” also is in service. 
A home in Yemen that was destroyed in a drone strike

Reapers are another story. They feature a maximum payload of 3,000 pounds, or 1.5 tons. That means they can carry a combination of Hellfires and larger 500 pound bombs like the GBU-12 Paveway II and GBD-38 JDAM. Those have an “effective casualty radius” of about 200 feet. That means that about 50 percent of people within 200 feet of the blast site will die. Those odds improve — or worsen, depending on how you look at it — the closer you get, obviously. 
So imagine if you took a football field and shrunk it by a third. A Reaper attacks one endzone with a GBU-12. If you’re on the field, you have a 50 percent chance of dying.

According to the WaPo database, there have been 347 attacks in Pakistan, 53 in Yemen and 2 in Somalia. From 2008 through October 2012, there were 1,015 strikes in Afghanistan, 48 in Iraq, and at least 105 in Libya according to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism. That does not include strikes in Libya past September 2011, strikes from 2001 to 2007 in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those since October 2012. The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti reported that at least one strike has happened in the Philippines.

Sen. Lindsey Graham estimated the death toll of the Pakistan/Somalia/Yemen program at 4,700. That’s higher than most estimates; Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations puts the number at closer to 3,500.


  1. Must be an epic typo:
    When they said they would wage a "War on Terror" what they meant to say was "Wage a War OF Terror".

  2. that reaper makes a predator look just a little irritant, 'only two Hellfires?, i laugh in your face......'

  3. 3,500? Or 350,000?

    I think that's a typo.