The Drone Pilot Who Watched Osama Bin Laden Walk Away
Scott Swanson fired the Predator's first Hellfire missile
Months before the 9/11 terror attacks, U.S. Air Force captain Scott Swanson was controlling a Predator drone over Afghanistan. Swanson and his team were looking for Osama Bin Laden … and they found him.
But this was months before the Predator could fire missiles. The drone operators could only watch as the terrorist leader walked away. When the military finally gave the drones weapons, Swanson became the first Predator operator fire a Hellfire missile in combat.
This week on War College, Swanson walks us through the early history of America’s killer drone program. To learn more, Swanson recommends reading Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution by journalist Richard Whittle.