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Harken Energy Corporation (HEC) Message Board

  • boathead99 boathead99 Jul 29, 1999 1:08 AM Flag

    No HEC Worms In Canada

    No guerillas, either. No possible nationalization of the industry and always those wonderful fall colors you'll never see in Colombia.

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    • More info on the recent crash of the intelligence
      plane. American military involvement explained in
      detail:

      STRATFOR.COM
      Global Intelligence Update
      July 29,
      1999

      Colombia Loses its Secret Weapon against the
      FARC

      Summary:

      Last week's crash of a U.S. RC-7B intelligence
      gathering aircraft in southern Colombia not only
      highlighted the rapidly escalating U.S. involvement in the
      war against Colombia's guerrillas, but also opened a
      window of opportunity for the rebels. Two of their most
      recent offensives were quickly rebuffed by the Colombian
      military, almost certainly thanks to intelligence gathered
      by this aircraft. Until a replacement is rotated
      into the area, the FARC can move with greater freedom,
      and may strike back not only at the Colombian
      military, but at its U.S.
      allies.

      Analysis:

      The Colombian Army, long outmatched in the Colombian
      hinterlands by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of
      Colombia (FARC), scored two quick and decisive victories
      over FARC guerrillas in recent weeks. The first
      incident occurred in the run-up to peace talks when the
      FARC attempted to strike at the mountain headquarters
      of paramilitary leader Carlos Castano, but was
      quickly intercepted and driven back by Colombian Army
      troops. The second incident occurred following the
      postponement of peace talks, when a column of FARC guerillas
      marching on Bogota was intercepted and routed by the
      Colombian Army. The successful interceptions of FARC
      attacks -- more than anything intelligence coups -- were
      quite stunning for a military that is renowned for
      falling victim to FARC ambushes. Clearly, something was
      up.

      What was up, in the words of one of our readers from
      Cali, was Colombia's new "Ghost Plane," the U.S. Army's
      intelligence-gathering De Havilland RC-7B that is now down, crashed into
      the side of a mountain on the border of Putumayo and
      Narino states in southern Colombia. Rescuers have
      reached the widely scattered wreckage of the aircraft,
      which crashed sometime in the early morning hours of
      July 23, and have reported thus far finding the
      remains of four of the aircraft's seven member crew --
      five U.S. soldiers and two Colombians. All seven are
      presumed to have died in the crash.

      The RC-7B is a
      COMINT (communications intelligence) and IMINT (imagery
      intelligence) aircraft, based on the four-engined De Havilland
      Dash 7 commuter plane. According to Jane's Aircraft
      Upgrades, it is equipped with an HF/VHF/UHF/SHF intercept
      and direction finding system, an infrared
      linescanner, Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) camera, daylight
      imaging system (television camera), and an MTI/SAR
      sensor. The basic sensor package can also be augmented
      with low-light television, moving target indicator
      cueing radar, synthetic aperture radar, multispectral
      camera, acoustic sensor, precision targeting subsystem,
      and direct air-to-satellite data link. Variants of
      the RC-7B, of which there are approximately six total
      aircraft, have been used to aid FEMA disaster relief
      efforts after Hurricane Marilyn and for "operations other
      than war" in Haiti. The one that crashed in Colombia
      was based out of Fort Bliss, home of EPIC, the El
      Paso Intelligence Center.

      • 1 Reply to jarthur
      • The official details of the mission are sketchy
        and inconsistent. Early reports claimed the aircraft
        was carrying contracted U.S. civilian
        counternarcotics advisors, though it was quickly acknowledged that
        the aircraft and its crew were from the U.S. Army's
        Southern Command. According to Colombian Air Force
        officials, cited by Agence France-Presse, the aircraft was
        on a routine counternarcotics mission over Putumayo
        state, filming coca and poppy crops. Putumayo is an area
        of heavy drug trafficking and production -- and FARC
        guerrilla activity. The officials reported that the
        aircraft left its "work zone" and may have crashed due to
        a "navigational error" compounded by poor weather
        creating a low flight ceiling. U.S. officials speculated
        it might have crashed into an uncharted mountain,
        perhaps in part due to the chronic fog and low clouds in
        the area. The aircraft reportedly radioed in for the
        last time at 0140 local time from a position 50 miles
        south of San Jose del Guaviare. An alert was sounded
        when it failed to return as scheduled, six hours
        later. While the cause of the crash remains unclear, the
        Colombian Air Force chief, General Hector Velasco, ruled
        out the possibility that it could have been shot down
        by insurgents, claiming it was flying high enough to
        be safe.

        Contradictions and questions are
        rife both in details of the crash and in explanations
        of the plane's mission. The reason to scud-run below
        the low clouds would be to make effective use of
        daylight or low light television cameras, but it was some
        time between 0140 and 0740 -- mostly dark -- and the
        aircraft was at least equipped with an infrared camera and
        possibly a multispectral camera. It was also taking
        tremendous risk for a routine poppy filming mission,
        scud-running in unfamiliar and uncharted territory with a high
        value asset -- one of six RC-7Bs. But how low was it
        flying? According to General Velasco, it was high enough
        to be out of reach of the FARC. Assuming the FARC
        are minimally armed with bargain basement
        anti-aircraft systems, a man-portable 12.7mm machine gun, that
        would be over about 1,600 meters above ground level.
        If, as reports have indicated, the FARC has
        possession of man-portable surface to air missiles, "safe"
        would be somewhere above 2,300 to 3,500 meters. Of
        course, if the plane simply strayed into a mountainside,
        it was, for a moment too long, well within those
        ranges.

        According to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Southern Command
        refused to comment on whether the aircraft had been used
        to eavesdrop on FARC communications. However, the
        speed and precision with which the Colombian military
        has intercepted recent FARC columns suggests
        otherwise. The Colombian Army was twice vectored directly to
        major FARC columns, one of which was in the normal area
        of operations of the RC-7B. Colombia's El Espectador
        newspaper declared outright that, "A U.S. official
        confirmed that practically all radio transmissions by the
        Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia from the past two
        months" were intercepted by U.S. surveillance equipment.
        According to the newspaper, this has "provided the
        [Colombian] army a huge strategic advantage over the
        rebels."

        The FARC, which arguably would do so if it could, has
        not claimed responsibility for the crash. However,
        the FARC leadership warned on July 26 that the crash
        was an example of what awaited the U.S. should it
        pursue what the FARC believes is a planned invasion. The
        FARC continues to aver that U.S. military advisors in
        Colombia are legitimate targets. The aircraft, a potent
        symbol of increasing U.S. involvement in the war against
        the Colombian rebels and a potent tool against those
        rebels, would have been a prime target for the rebels.
        Whether or not the FARC were in some way responsible for
        the crash, the incident removes a key advantage
        enjoyed by the Colombian military and has exposed some of
        the U.S. involvement in the country.

 

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