Broad Area Maritime Surveillance, Federal Aviation Administration, General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, Grand Forks Air Force Base, navy, Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, United States
If the fact that military drones are already being used in tandem with law enforcement in order to conduct warrantless surveillance on the American people wasn’t troubling enough, we now have a shocking list of 110 potential drone bases on U.S. soil.
Let’s not forget that drones have also been used to help carry out arrests and with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accelerating the integration of these unmanned crafts into our airspace and the drone industry boasting about their influence over “our” government, we can only expect more.
The newly released document (embedded below), which was originally reported on by Inside Defense, is a report to Congress which lists every one of the 110 potential sites as well as the model(s) of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), better known as drones, which will fly out of said site.
These bases span 39 out of 50 states as well as bases in Guam and Puerto Rico. The drones which will operate out of these sites range from the relatively tiny AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven to the considerably larger General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and beyond.
Indeed, many of the drones listed are far from the usual drones I would expect to see, such as the RQ-4 Block 10 Global Hawk, produced by Northrop Grumman, which is to be operated out of NAS (Naval Air Station) Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as the RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk to be operated out of Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Other relatively large drones include the RQ-4A BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance) Global Hawk, General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, as well as Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8 Fire Scout and the Schiebel S-100, both of which are helicopter drones.
Keep in mind, the Fire Scout is the same drone which the Navy recently spent another $262 million on even though they don’t work properly as you can see in the brief video report below.
Some of these are on the smaller side and focused entirely or mostly on surveillance such as the Wasp, WASP III, RQ-21A, PUMA AE, and RQ-7 Shadow to name a few.
This is because the UCAS-D is a U.S. Navy program to create carrier-based drones, previously part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) J-UCAS program while UCLASS is described by the Navy as a program seeking, “an aircraft carrier based aircraft system providing persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capabilities that will enhance the versatility provided by an aircraft carrier.”
Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) has been allotted “88 active certificates of authorization (COAs) at various locations around the country” all of which are issued by the FAA.
These COAs allow them to fly drones outside of the restricted military zones, according to the report, which means that they can and likely do conduct surveillance on Americans (see the first link in this story for more information).
“The rapid increase in fielded UAS has created a strong demand for access within the NAS [National Airspace System] and international airspace. The demand for airspace to test new systems and train UAS operators has quickly exceeded the current airspace available for these activities,” the report said in justifying the expansion.
Unsurprisingly, our so-called representatives in the Senate are playing along and granting the military their every wish.
In the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, they stated that the process of integrating these drones into our national airspace should be even further accelerated.
Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News, a project of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), reported on June 8th that the Senate Armed Services Committee said in their report that drones should be able to “operate freely and routinely in the NAS.”
This report comes after Public Intelligence listed some 64 approximated locations of both current and planned DoD activity sites originally posted on June 12. At the time that was quite shocking but this latest report blows that out of the water.
The Pentagon’s report contended that drones require the same ability as manned aircraft to fly freely over the United States in order to realize their fullest potential as military assets.
“UAS will not achieve their full potential military utility unless they can go where manned aircraft go with the same freedom of navigation, responsiveness, and flexibility,” the report said.
Some of our so-called representatives seem to be attempting to take a stand, even if it is just a purely ceremonial one with Representative Austin Scott’s H.R.5925, intended “to protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles.”
Senator Rand Paul (who many believe has betrayed the cause of liberty as you can hear in this interview I conducted with Brandon Turbeville) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S.3287.
Personally, I think Senator Paul is just attempting to scrape up what is left of his shattered reputation after betraying so many of his father’s supporters, and likely his own supporters, for coming out in support of Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.
That being said, I’ll take what I can get at this point when it comes to the protection of our civil liberties in the face of the influx of drones sweeping the United States.
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This article first appeared at End the Lie.