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Combat Drones Soon To Fly Over U.S. Airspace
While combat drones are not allowed in the U.S. airspace without a special certificate from the FAA, the military is in a fix over the 7, 500 military drones deployed overseas, that need to be recalled home.
While the fleet of unmanned robotic aircraft keeps growing and adding to the nation’s arsenal, the Pentagon is working out procedures to enable the Federal Aviation Administration to open U.S. Airspace for military drones.
With the gradual pacification of the war-torn areas of Iraq and Afghanistan the time for the drones to return has arrived. The armed forces continued to acquire military drones to upgrade tactical prowess and reduce human casualty throughout the “War against Terror” period. The original fleet of 50 drones as of Sept 11, 2011 has now grown to almost seven and a half thousand.
After returning home, the robotic aircraft would be stationed in military bases around the nation for use in emergencies. Unmanned drones have already been successful in penetrating critical areas and helping people like during the recent tsunami in Japan and earthquake in Haiti.
Steve Pennington, the Director of Ranges, Bases, and Airspace for the Air Force said that “The stuff from Afghanistan is going to come back,” and that the Department of Defense wanted to use the drones for needs of the nation and that the Department “doesn’t want a segregated environment. We want a fully integrated environment.” This can mean that military drones would be brought under the same rules as other military aircraft.
The FAA does not allow remotely controlled aircraft in the national airspace as according to the FAA, drones don’t have adequate “detect, sense and avoid” technology to safeguard collisions with other objects in midair.
While the smaller drones, which are mostly as large as hobby planes may be brought under a system, the question is different for the large Global Hawks, MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers which can wreak havoc in the wrong hands.
Last week, Congress approved legislation requiring the FAA to create a plan for wide-scale integration of drones in the national airspace by 2015.