There’s been a lot of talk going around (particularly in social media circles) about law enforcement agencies deploying UAVs and drones of various kinds here in the US. The ACLU is incensed, and starting a petition to stop it. The Border Patrol is using them to great effect trying to stop our hemorrhaging border (though it’s far too little…which by no means is their fault). BOLO Report staffers have been surprised to see just how polarizing this issue is, even amongst the LEOs that might be using them. In any case,a lot of people don’t know much about unmanned aircraft other than what they hear about missile strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan (for instance, most people still think of Predators and Reapers instead of UAVs like the Tactical Electronics’ RAPTR). Foreign Policy has a new article up called Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Drones. It’s a good read and very informative.
Here’s Number 3 on their list:
3. Drones are coming to America.
Worried about the militarization of U.S. airspace by unmanned aerial vehicles? As of October, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had reportedly issued 285 active certificates for 85 users, covering 82 drone types. The FAA has refused to say who received the clearances, but it was estimated over a year ago that 35 percent were held by the Pentagon, 11 percent by NASA, and 5 percent by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). And it’s growing. U.S. Customs and Border Protection already operates eight Predator drones. Under pressure from the congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus — yes, there’s already a drone lobby, with 50 members — two additional Predators were sent to Texas in the fall, though a DHS official noted: “We didn’t ask for them.” Last June, a Predator drone intended to patrol the U.S.-Canada border helped locate three suspected cattle rustlers in North Dakota in what was the first reported use of a drone to arrest U.S. citizens.
For more information, read the whole article.