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Deceptive eye in the sky

Washington, Oct. 16 (Reuters): The US military RC-7B spy plane ordered by the Pentagon to help hunt for a sniper terrorising the Washington area is a much more potent weapon than its looks would suggest.

The new and modified version of the original four-engine, turboprop De Havilland Canada Dash-7 airliner is used by the US army. Packed with sophisticated surveillance equipment, it can track people and vehicles on the ground day and night.

The quiet RC-7B (R for reconnaissance) carries a crew of pilot, co-pilot and four systems operators. But the $17 million electronics system is highly-automated to reduce workload on the crew.

Used in recent years to hunt for drug smugglers in Latin America and to look closely at the military in North Korea, it also carries computer-enhanced, long-range camera equipment.

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