Senate: Drones Need to Operate “Freely and Routinely” In U.S.

The integration of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) needs to be expedited, the Senate Armed Services Committee said in its report on the FY2013 defense authorization bill last week.

“While progress has been made in the last 5 years, the pace of development must be accelerated; greater cross-agency collaboration and resource sharing will contribute to that objective,” the Committee said.

A provision of the bill would encourage greater collaboration on drone integration among the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA.

“Large number of UASs now deployed overseas may be returned to the United States as the conflict in Afghanistan and operations elsewhere wind down in coming years, and new UASs are under development.”

“Without the ability to operate freely and routinely in the NAS, UAS development and training– and ultimately operational capabilities– will be severely impacted,” the Committee report said.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday approved an amendment to the 2013 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would prohibit DHS from acquiring or flying drones that have weapons onboard.

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the purchase, operation, or maintenance of armed unmanned aerial vehicles,” says the provision sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).

This prohibition, which is limited to DHS, is likely to be of no practical significance.  “Has there ever been any plan to buy armed drones by Homeland Security?” asked Rep. Norm Dicks on the House floor yesterday.  “No,” replied Rep. Robert Aderholt.

Also yesterday, Rep. Scott Austin (R-GA) introduced a bill (HR 5925) “to protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones.”

8 Responses to “Senate: Drones Need to Operate “Freely and Routinely” In U.S.”

  1. Norman June 8, 2012 at 1:46 PM #

    The inmates running the asylum! Isn’t this becoming like the movie “The Terminator”. It sure doesn’t bode well for the future. Also, the critical microchips that have hidden back doors, allowing hackers to cause mischief. What has happened to this country?

  2. Patrick Eddington June 8, 2012 at 5:53 PM #

    The statement that “This prohibition, which is limited to DHS, is likely to be of no practical significance” is false. The language of the amendment, should it survive the conference process, will be binding and not only affects DHS proper but all funds that pass through/are distributed by DHS to state/local law enforcement organizations. Such a prohibition would most definitely make it far more difficult for the Montgomery County, Texas police department to buy armed drones, an intent that has been publicly reported.

    Moreover, the amendment was preemptive in nature. Given the rising rhetoric over the need to “get tougher” on the southern border vis a vis the Mexican drug cartels, it is simply a matter of time before some start suggesting that CBP should arm its drones and conduct “signature strikes” against suspected drug cartel facilities.

  3. Steven Aftergood June 8, 2012 at 6:33 PM #

    That’s an important correction. Thanks Patrick.

  4. HANK HILL June 11, 2012 at 2:08 PM #

    they know not of what they speak!!!!!! not in the u.s!

  5. Yank lll June 14, 2012 at 6:50 PM #

    All I know is that the govt has been focused on obtaining more and more items whose main function is to be used against non compliant civilian population. If the scumbags would obey their oath and the constitution they wouldnt be nervous about a non compliant population..

    Yank lll

  6. Robert L Cerra June 15, 2012 at 11:38 AM #

    Get them up and flying and use them to assist law enforcement – it’s a great idea. If the ACLU is against their use they must be effective.

  7. david berrey November 21, 2012 at 8:00 PM #

    What is being left out in all these discussions are the hundreds of thousands of individuals that build and operate “drones” of all types and descriptions. Even now as congress pushes the FAA to include drones in US airspace, this unstoppable group of young brilliant enthusiasts are not even discussed. Of course Congress or FAA could just ignore their rights in favor of large military contractors, but unless they are ready to track down what will be millions of ingenious RC and drone hobbyists unnecessarily, then they had better embrace the individual’s rights to own and operate flying, crawling, swimming drones in a responsible way or brace themselves for a rude awakening that no amount of regulation will stop their development.

  8. david berrey November 21, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

    If you feel that an individuals should have right to own and operate (responsibly) remotely controlled drones, or you feel that making them illegal will just make a new generation of bright young engineers, entrepreneurs, and kids looking for something positive to focus their talents, criminals needlessly, then please join us …dronesorg.com
    Drones are coming, and you can try to stop the importation of components, have a new “WAR ON ADUINOS” or…we can encourage people to respect others safety and privacy with appropriate penalties that are common sense and accepted by reasonable people

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