Saturday 25 June 2016

Review: Hunter Killer: Inside the Lethal World of Drone Warfare

Hunter Killer: Inside the Lethal World of Drone Warfare Hunter Killer: Inside the Lethal World of Drone Warfare by T. Mark McCurley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Everyone has heard of drones, those unmanned, mysterious planes controlled remotely from an air-conditioned office on a military base in America. However, drones are the future of military flying technology as they are now a key counterterrorism tool. They contain cutting edge technology, powerful cameras to zoom right in to verify that the correct target has been located and are armed with Hellfire missiles, packing a lethal punch. McCurley is uniquely qualified to part the curtains on this secret world; he was one of the guys who volunteered to serve and has since become commander of a squadron and written the operating manual for the entire Predator programme.

McCurley recounts his time spent in the squadrons he served in, describing the missions that he flew or was involved with and the emotions he had in his role. When based in America he was flying sorties over Afghanistan and in no danger, but it was a struggle though to drive home through the Los Angeles traffic with the images still rolling round his mind. That all changed when he was posted to Iraq and placed on the front line. They were still flying remote, but they occasionally had insurgents fire RPGs at the base. He made is briefly back to America, before being deployed to Africa to continue the work tracking Al Qaeda operatives and running a squadron that was last in the line for logistic support.

It is a strange book in some ways, it is dry, full of technical and military jargon and on the other hand compelling as McCurley describes the missions tracking his targets. It is terrifying too, when you stop to consider where they can go and what they can do when they get there. It was thought that the removal of pilots from the front line and turning the killing into a video game would sanitise what they were doing; but the impression that you get from this book is that they are far more affected than regular pilots who do not have the high spec cameras to see the targets before and after. The writing is reasonable and worth reading if you have an interest in military technology.

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