June 19, 2012
Death-dealing drones buzzing above may be a constant worry for militants in far-flung lands, but now more of America’s aerial assassins and their spying compatriots could be coming to your backyard — just for testing and training, according to the Department of Defense.
The military has identified 110 potential bases for drone operations at military installations in 39 states, from Georgia to California, according to a new Defense Department report dated April 2012 and published online late last week by the Federation of American Scientists. The U.S. bases could support all kinds of drones, from the deadly, missile-capable Predators to the next-generation surveillance Global Hawks.
Drone testing and operator training are already done in the U.S., but the report noted that the “strong demand” from the military’s various branches for expanded access to domestic airspace, which is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, has “quickly exceeded the current airspace available for these activities.” The report says that under current policy, the military has to obtain temporary permission to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) outside its own restricted airspace.