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article imageGoogle Maps satellite images expose U.S. secret military base

By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 11, 2011 in World
Google has been accused of compromising U.S. national security after it allowed images of a top secret U.S. military airbase at Yucca Lake, Nevada, to be viewed by the general public on Google Maps.
The secret drone airbase, according to Daily Mail, is used for testing top secret RQ-170 drones similar to the one the U.S. lost to the Iranians last week.
Investigations by a website Flight Global, shows that anyone can search for names of U.S. military bases and zoom in to inspect any airbase of his choice, including secret military airbases which house top-secret drones like the RQ-170 Sentinel.
Fox News reports that a retired Air Force Colonel, Cedric Leighton, said: "Iranians would be most interested in operational bases because that tells them how we fly our surveillance missions. Google is making public what was once the sole province of the military and intelligence community, making this a brave new world for the intelligence agencies as well."
The aviation website Flight Global, said it discovered the secret Yucca Lake airstrip with Predator and Reaper drones on the airstrip. The website said: "The satellite image, taken in early 2011 and available on Google Maps, appears to show a roughly 5,200 ft asphalt runway and what appears to be a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper UAV being towed on the parking ramp. The airfield has four hangars of varying sizes, including a hangar with clamshell doors that is characteristic of US UAV operations.Details of the airfield, including a parking lot, security perimeter and ongoing construction are clearly visible."
U.S. Predator drone firing Hellfire missile.
U.S. Predator drone firing Hellfire missile.
Critics of Google say the details described by the website show how easy it is for foreign powers to inspect secret military installations, top-secret military crafts and other equipment of the U.S. government and military.. The RQ-170 Sentinel, which anyone may inspect on Google Maps, for instance, is the most advanced model of U.S. spy drones with high definition cameras and sensors that can scan for nuclear armaments. The plane has an advanced stealth shell that hides it from detection by radar.
According to Flight Global, a previous image showing what looked like a Pilatus PC-12 and Beechcraft King Air parked on the strip led to speculations that the strip was used by the defense firm Lockheed Martin. Flight Global, according to Daily Mail, criticized Google, saying though Google had the right to show the images, it should not have shown them because of the implications to U.S. national security.
Previous Google images had revealed the location of another secret base in Denver and in Pakistan's Balochistan province. Google photographs showed Predator drones on a parking ramp at Shamsi Airfied (see images below). According to Flight Global, several other Nevada military bases such as the Creech Air Force Base may be viewed on Google Maps.
Leighton told Fox News that the U.S. military had previously blocked Google employees from capturing images of military bases for the Google Earth program, but Dr. John Michener, chief scientist at the security firm Casaba, said Google had the right to show the images as laws that otherwise prohibit them do not apply "above the atmosphere." Michener said: "Get used to it. You know when the satellites are overhead. You can take countermeasures to hide portable stuff."
He added that a problem could arise if the "government started filtering through 'deep-packet inspections', which would mean inserting code onto the web that would block access to secret images, and that Google could then start encrypting its images."
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