More Drones Than They Know What To Do With

June 11, 2012

Maybe the southern border could use a few??? Operational ones only, with pilots please.

Just spend the money, we will figure out what to do with what we buy. It’s good for economy don’t you know.

The Homeland Security Department ordered so many drones it can’t keep them all flying and doesn’t have a good plan for how to use them, according to a new audit that the department’s  department’s inspector general released Monday.

In a blunt assessment, investigators said Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine has a fleet of nine “unmanned aircraft systems” and is awaiting a 10th — though it doesn’t have enough ground support and doesn’t have a good plan for prioritizing missions.

“CBP procured unmanned aircraft before implementing adequate plans,” the investigators said.

The Defense Department uses armed drones overseas in the war on terrorism, but American law enforcement agencies are increasingly turning to them for use in detecting or preventing crimes at home. At the same time, they are butting heads with civil libertarians who worry about intrusion into innocent citizens’ private lives.

The inspector general said given the number of aircraft, CBP should have been able to fly more than 10,000 hours of missions per year, but in the year under review the agency flew less than 4,000 hours.

Underscoring the ad hoc approach, the agency doesn’t have a dedicated budget for running drones, and has had to siphon money from other areas to keep the program afloat. Investigators said the budget woes mean future missions may have to be scrapped — yet the underfunded fleet continues to grow.

Buy until there is no more to buy …

“Despite the current underutilization of unmanned aircraft, CBP received two additional aircraft in late 2011 and was awaiting delivery of a tenth aircraft in 2012,” the inspector general said.

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Merry Christmas: The Air Force Just Bought Its Biggest And Fastest $19 Million Dollar Armed Drone Ever

December 31, 2011

Meet the Avenger:

The Air Force just bought itself the next generation “hunter-killer” drone, and at nearly 16,000 pounds and 44 feet long the Avenger is now the largest UAV in the U.S. arsenal.

The Avenger

The more powerful ‘Predator C Plus made by General Atomics.

William Hennigan of the LA Times reports the $15 million drone is one of the models in consideration to replace the aging Predators and Reapers in use for the past several years (via Stars and Stripes).

Made by General Atomics, the Avenger is powered by a turbofan engine, has internal weapons storage, and an “S” shaped exhaust for minimal heat and radar signature.

Though it carries the Lynx Synthetic aperture radar and a version of the F-35’s electro-targeting system, the craft will use the same ground control as the MQ-9 drones currently in operation.

The new drone won’t be able to fly as long as the Reaper, 20 hours compared the the Reaper’s 30, but it will reach a top speed of 460 mph, more than 120 mph faster than its predecessor.

After reports earlier this month that the drone would be sent to Afghanistan, Air Force officials now say the Avenger may be years away from active duty.

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New Satellite Images Reveal A Secret Drone Testing US Drone Base In Nevada

December 13, 2011

A secret U.S. airfield, used for the testing and training of unmanned drones, has been found on Google Earth by aviation website Flight Global (via rt.com).

The airfield, located in Yucca Lake, Nevada, has been analyzed and is said to contain a 5,200 foot runway with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs, or drones) on the parking ramp, as well as hangers, a parking lot, a security perimeter and a special clamshell hanger used for housing special drones, called “Beasts.”

Beasts — official name “RQ-170 Sentinel” — are especially advanced drones, featuring high-definition cameras and a stealth shell. Iran recently claimed to have captured a Beast spying on Iranian nuclear activities.

The airfield is technically located on land owned by the Department of Energy, though it’s still not clear which government agency controls the base. Despite reports from the DOE that UAV as well as manned flights take off from the field daily, speculation says the site may be a secret drone testing ground for the CIA.

This isn’t the first time Google has done some unintentional spying of its own. In 2009, Google captured pictures of American Predator drones based in Pakistan — despite American claims to have no drones in the country.

An aircraft of some kind can be seen in the foreground on the left in the picture below:

Looks like another “RQ-170 Sentinel” is on the ground, just to the right of the three tower cranes.


Predators For Thee, But Not For Illegal Aliens: Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front

December 11, 2011

Unarmed Predators for routine law enforcement without public debate or clear legal authority is a mistake, Harman said.

Similar to this 2008 Story … Hovering drone could report for work at Miami-Dade police station

The most fearful dimension to this for me is psychological.

The technology is neutral, cops using remote controlled planes with cameras in place of their helicopters is not in itself a threat to civil liberties. But what you have here is a technology that’s been branded since the beginning as the weapon of choice against terrorists, and as a military tool. So what I fear is this idea getting out there that having US people treated like enemy combatants is somehow the new normal. Its really about the slippery slope it represents.

“There is no question that this could become something that people will regret,” said Harman, who resigned from the House in February and now heads the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Washington think tank.

In 2008 and 2010, Harman helped beat back efforts by Homeland Security officials to use imagery from military satellites to help domestic terrorism investigations. Congress blocked the proposal on grounds it would violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the military from taking a police role on U.S. soil.

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