Photo: Northrop Grumman
We reported yesterday that the past decade has seen unprecedented growth in the number of U.S. drones flying the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan. With unfettered access to the occupied air space and burgeoning technology, the American UAV fleet has swelled beyond what was imagined before the wars.
Now, with ground operations concluded in Iraq and scheduled to end in Afghanistan by 2014, those new drones will be coming home and their pilots will need a place to fly them and train.
Which could be why Congress is calling for the accelerated use of unmanned drones in U.S. air space.
Steven Aftergood at FAS dug up the authorization bill before the Federal Aviation Administration requiring the agency to put “a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system” within nine months.
The bill goes on to say “The plan… shall provide for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015.”
The bill calls for numerous test ranges to be operated in conjunction with NASA and the Department of defence, use of drones in the Arctic, guidance system improvements, and an assessment of the “catastrophic failure of the unmanned aircraft that would endanger other aircraft in the national airspace system.”
This bill follows up the Army’s January directive to use drone fleets in the U.S. for training missions and “domestic operations.”
And both of these initiatives are mandated in the NDAA (section 1097) that calls for six drone test ranges to be operational withing six months of that bills signing December 31.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.