'60 Minutes': Predator Video
'60 Minutes': Predator Video Transcript
>> The Predator started out as a drone, an unmanned aircraft designed to fly reconnaissance missions deep into enemy territory, sending back live video while its three-person crew operated from the safety of a trailer parked hundreds of miles away. But over the past two years this spindly little airplane has become a real predator going after human prey. Watch as the predator directs an attack against an al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.
>> Other people are coming out of the mosque right now.
>> Got ahead.
>> The predator is sending these pictures, live, to an AC-130 gunship and talks it onto the targe.
>> Okay, I'm [inaudible] 3 vehicles waited east west, you see those?
>> You do.
>> Gonna make the move now.
>> One of the vehicles is moving right now.
>> Roger, now clear to engage the moving vehicle. ^M00:00:48 [ Inaudible ] ^M00:00:51
>> The vehicle is in the center of the screen.
>> Hey, [inaudible].
>> Good shot.
>> Conduct on those guys, here we go.
>> Those are vehicles.
>> Let's secondary.
>> Those are secondary explosions from ammunitions.
>> Vehicle is disengaged. ^M00:01:06 [ Inaudible ] ^M00:01:08
>> There you go.
>> Those white figures are the al-Qaeda fighters.
>> Any person right there.
>> Okay, still copies on target 2213.
>> This is what the Predator's Hellfire missiles did to an SUV carrying five al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen late last year. All five were killed. Air Force Chief of Staff General John Jumper is the man who turned the Predator into the CIA's weapon of choice. It almost sounds like you started with a remote controlled spy plane and turned it into a remote controlled hit man.
>> No, I turned it into an armed reconnaissance vehicle.
>> An armed reconnaissance...
>> We don't do hits in United States Military.
>> What would you call Yemen?
>> I would call Yemen a shot against the target.
>> Thirty-feet long, and powered by a 106-horse power snowmobile engine, the Predator looks more like a model airplane than a 21st century weapon. With a wing span of less than 50-feet, the Predator was never designed to carry a weapon. Before the first test shots, the engineers were afraid the missile's exhaust would actually melt the wing. It was all done in secret in the Nevada desert, but by June of 2001, the Predator was armed and according to some officials, turned over to the CIA for a special mission. They'll tell you that the reason a Hellfire was put on the Predator was to kill Osama bin Laden?
>> No, the hellfire was put on the Predator to take care of a range of targets that we call fleeting and perishable, ones that get away quickly. That was the original intent.
>> Sounds like a pretty good description of Osama bin Laden?
>> Well, people can interpret it that way. Absolutely right.
>> Judging by the silhouettes painted on the nose of this Predator operating over Afghanistan it was racking up kills right and left. Those pictures of bin Laden presumably stand for members of al-Qaida. But the warhead on the Hellfire missile was designed to penetrate the thick armor of a tank before detonating and it wasn't working well against human beings. Now, I've been told the people looking at the videos and they would see that missile hit a building, but because it still had that penetrating charge on it, it would not blow up like that.
>> And you could see on the video, people running out of the building.
>> Right, exactly.
>> Too many terrorists are getting away. So the Air Force called Chuck Vessels at the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, and gave him the mission to come up with a deadlier warhead for the Hellfire. Normally, that would cost millions of dollars and take years of development. Vessels did it in weeks. It was simple and cheap. Take a flat piece of steel, cut notches in it so it will break apart easily, roll it into a sleeve with a piano hand and wrap it around the missile. That's it?
>> That's it. When it detonates, the notches create a fault line in the material and the material breaks up like that every time and then readily disperses the fragment.
>> This is what the first test of Vessels warhead look like. And this is what that SUV carrying out al-Qaida operatives in Yemen look like.
>> Any time you send an unmanned anything into combat, you're saving troops lives. So weaponize something that doesn't put the troops in the line of fire is a good thing. ^M00:04:39 [ Clock ticking ]
Some of America's most famous and enduring technologies were developed at Area 51, from the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes to the ancestors of today's Predator drones.
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Lesley Stahl examines the Predator technology that helped win Sadr City.
Camp Pendleton-based Marines train in Atlanta with satellite dishes before heading to Iraq in February, 2006. US Marines stationed in San Diego train before heading to Iraq for a 1-year deployment.
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