The technology of war in the Middle East is being implemented here. The federal government is only in the testing phase. This technology is going to become widespread in a few years. “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!” It’s a drone. Read this. That ought to ruin your day.
Now read this.
A Congressional report obtained by Wired Danger Room says that unmanned surveillance and strike technology in use by the military has been growing exponentially over just the last several years:
Remember when the military actually put human beings in the cockpits of its planes? They still do, but in far fewer numbers. According to a new congressional report acquired by Danger Room, drones now account for 31 percent of all military aircraft.
To be fair, lots of those drones are tiny flying spies, like the Army’s Raven, that could never accommodate even the most diminutive pilot. (Specifically, the Army has 5,346 Ravens, making it the most numerous military drone by far.) But in 2005, only five percent of military aircraft were robots, a report by the Congressional Research Service notes. Barely seven years later, the military has 7,494 drones. Total number of old school, manned aircraft: 10,767 planes.
A small sliver of those nearly 7,500 drones gets all of the attention. The military owns 161 Predators — the iconic flying strike drone used over Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere — and Reapers, the Predator’s bigger, better-armed brother.
But even as the military’s bought a ton of drones in the past few years, the Pentagon spends much, much more money on planes with people in them. Manned aircraft still get 92 percent of the Pentagon’s aircraft procurement money. Still, since 2001, the military has spent $26 billion on drones, the report — our Document of the Day — finds. . . .
The popularity of a technology capable of seeing targets by their heat signature, zooming in on situations-of-interest from thousands of feet in the air, and the ability to kill or disable those targets when necessary is no longer restricted to just the U.S. Department of Defense.
It has also been tempting the domestic law enforcement sector, which by some accounts is now considered by the Department of Homeland Security and Congress as the new battlefield against terrorism. The FAA recently granted approval for widespread use of drones over U.S. airspace, and local sheriff’s offices and metropolitan areas are now regularly deploying re-purposed drones from the middle east theater of war to their localities in the interest of maintaining safety, security and a watchful eye over the American people. Since, according to DHS chief Janet Napolitano, the terrorist threat has “shifted” to lone wolf attackers living in the United States, domestic deployment of military drone technology has and will continue to increase.
With the success of robotic ‘soldiers’ on the battlefields of the middle east and north Africa, and the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act solidifying government’s seal of approval for domestic war-time and surveillance operations, Americans can expect that our own law enforcement fleets will soon see marked increases in the use of these weapons and technologies.
The only question now, it seems, is who is flying these unmanned vehicles over America?