3 reasons UAVs excel at nuclear spying

The ability of unmanned aerial vehicles such as the RQ-170 Sentinel downed by Iran earlier this month to conduct nuclear surveillance greatly outstrips that of satellites and manned spy planes, and therefore it's little surprise the United States has chosen to employ UAVs in that role and risk their possible loss, reports Adam Rawnsley at Wired's Danger Room blog.

One reason UAVs are perfectly suited for the role is that they are able to furnish persistent surveillance not available from the short sweep of reconnaissance satellites that fly at up to four miles a second past the area under surveillance once every three days as they progress through their orbit.  
Another reason is that UAVs can fly closer to their targets, which allows their cameras and sensors to capture better imagery of the ground.

Yet another reason for using UAVs is that they can be outfitted with sensor packages that can literally sniff the atmosphere for telltale signs of radionuclides that could indicate the processing of nuclear materials, the blog states.

Defense Systems Update

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