Intelligence: September 16, 2003


The Canadian Coyote electronic reconnaissance vehicle has gone to Afghanistan and proved enormously useful by doing long range surveillance of Taliban and al Qaeda suspects. The Coyote is an 8x8 LAV (wheeled armored vehicle) mounting a 25mm Bushmaster cannon and a nine meter (30 foot) telescoping mast that contains a Doppler radar, laser rangefinder, thermal imaging sensor and video camera. The mast mounted sensors can see clearly out to 15 kilometers and identify targets (day or night) for artillery or air attack. The radar can spot targets out to 24 kilometers, but can only distinguish vehicle types (wheeled, tracked) beginning at about 12 kilometers. The main enemy in Afghanistan is al Qaeda and Taliban fighters who obtain shelter from local warlords, tribal leaders or gang leaders. Any of these big shots will be hanging out in a walled compound, usually out in an isolated area (so no one can easily sneak up on the place). The Coyote sets up on a distant hill and uses it's long range sensors to track who, and what, enters and leaves the compound for days, or weeks. This usually provides confirmation of which bad guys are in there, or, at times, when they are driving out to do some mischief. If the former, troops raid the place and arrest the suspects. If the latter, airpower is called in and people on the ground give the gunmen a chance to surrender, or die. The Coyote was originally conceived as an inexpensive replacement for air reconnaissance. But the ability of a Coyote vehicle to stay in one place and carefully track movements over a wide area for days, or weeks, have proven very useful for intelligence work. 


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