Daily Star November 23, 2001
GHOST PLANES CAN SEE INTO 100 FT CAVES
by ANTHONY WALTON
AMERICA last night unleashed its new Global Hawk spy plane in the hi-tech hunt for terror warlord Osama bin Laden. The unmanned high-flying plane - which cruises "on the edge of space" at 65,000ft - is nicknamed the Killer Whale because of its bulbous nose.
Yesterday two were rushed into action as US warplanes bombed the Taliban for the 47th day. The US Air Force is deploying four of the planes. They contain cameras powerful enough to distinguish - from a great height - different makes of car on the ground.
A US official said: "The Global Hawk will be a major improvement in providing accurate intelligence. It can fly higher, for longer, and capture more detailed images than anything else." Unmanned Predator planes have already fired Hellfire anti-tank missiles at tunnels and caves where bin Laden is suspected of hiding.
It was also revealed yesterday that US forces are using hi-tech sensors that can "see" in the dark - through 100ft of rock. New equipment which senses magnetic fields and vibrations is also being deployed to help troops detect bin Laden's hideout of caves.
With the fierce Afghan winter setting in soon, the heatsensing equipment will prove even more effective. The contrast will grow between the warmth of the caves and the cold air outside. "As it gets colder the caves are going to stay warm. And openings releasing that air are going to be seen as a hot spot, " a scientist said.
Some devices can detect a person breathing and the pollution from the exhaust of a military tank. It is also possible to "see" a parked car - in total darkness.
Ground penetrating radar is being used to search for caves and bunkers, while other technology will be picking up the magnetic fields from lighting systems in the tunnels used by al-Qaida. The devices are able to spot installations - even down to a depth of at 100ft.
John Pike - director of Global Security. org - whose website monitors war technology, said the hunt would range over a wide area. He said: "The popular conception is that bin Laden and his 40 thieves are in the bottom of some cavern - and if we can just find the secret cavern, the war will be over. "But these guys will be scattered - some in town, some in the hills, others in tunnels."
Copyright 2001 Express Newspapers