Friday, July 6, 2012

KPBS The Drone Makers And Their Friends In Washington.

The article examines the "Unmanned Systems Caucus," or the drone caucus.

[Excerpt] "Many of the most successful drone manufacturers are based in Southern California and elsewhere around the southwest.

The drone caucus — like the technology it promotes — is becoming increasingly important in the nation’s capitol as the government looks to unmanned vehicles to help save money on defense, better patrol the country’s borders and provide a new tool to U.S. law enforcement agencies and civilians.

“It’s definitely a powerful caucus,” said Alex Bronstein-Moffly, an analyst with First Street Research Group, a D.C.-based company that analyzes lobbying data.

“It’s probably up there in the more powerful caucuses that sort of is not talked about.” And, he says, caucus members are well placed to influence government spending and regulations.

Majia here: Members of the drone caucus are mostly traditional defense contractors: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics, and General Dyanamic. Smaller companies such as Southern California-based Aero Vironment are also involved. Public universities are lobbying for a slice of these dollars. New Mexico State Univ was named in the article.

Legislation is promoting drone use:

[Excerpt] "In February, President Barack Obama signed a law making it possible for police and fire departments to operate surveillance drones over U.S. skies. Under the same law, the likes of real estate agents and news organizations will soon be able to fly their own drones...."

Majia here: The drone market is expected to double over the next 10 years. 

"U.S. Relaxes Drone Rules: Obama Gives CIA, Military Greater Leeway in Use Against Militants in Yemen." The Wall Street Journal April 26, 2012
Influence Industry: Little lobbying opposition to bill opening up U.S. airspace to drones. By Dan Eggen & T.W. Farnam. Washington Post April 26, 2012:

[excerpted] "Drone technology, advanced by the military for surveillance and elimination of terrorists in war zones, is set to come back to the home front in a big way in coming years, with possible uses for law enforcement, first responders, and agriculture and environmental monitoring.

Select companies and local governments around the country already have permission to test drones, which can sometimes stay aloft for days at a time at a fraction of the cost of helicopters and airplanes..."

US Draws Up Plans for Nuclear DronesBy Nick Fielding, Guardian UK
04 April 12

[excerpt] "American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refuelling.

The blueprints for the new drones, which have been developed by Sandia National Laboratories – the US government's principal nuclear research and development agency – and defence contractor Northrop Grumman, were designed to increase flying time "from days to months" while making more power available for operating equipment, according to a project summary published by Sandia.


More on Drone Warfare

Drone Warfare Arms Race Escalates

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