Monday, December 3, 2012

Drone Crashes Mount, Raise Concerns for Civilians

Majia here: I reported recently on escalating use of drones (see below). Here is a new report on a danger posed by these drones:

Drone crashes mount at civilian airports Craig Whitlock The Washington Post Nov 30

[Excerpted] The April wreck was the latest in a rash of U.S. military drone crashes at overseas civilian airports in the past two years. The accidents reinforce concerns about the risks of flying the robot aircraft outside war zones, including in the United States.

...Among the problems repeatedly cited [in unclassified Air Force reports] are pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs in the “brains” of the aircraft and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers.

On Jan. 14, 2011, a Predator drone crashed off the Horn of Africa while trying to return to an international airport next to a U.S. military base in Djibouti. It was the first known accident involving a Predator or Reaper drone near a civilian airport. Predators and Reapers can carry satellite-guided missiles and have become the Obama administration’s primary weapon against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

In a Nov. 20 speech in Washington, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the Pentagon would expand its use of the unmanned attack planes “outside declared combat zones” as it pursues al-Qaeda supporters in Africa and the Middle East.

Starting in September 2011, records show, the U.S. Air Force took the unusual step of outsourcing the entire operation to a Florida-based private contractor, Merlin RAMCo. By then, the Seychelles operation had dwindled to two Reapers after the other aircraft were redeployed.... [end excerpt]

Majia here: Articles on expansion of drone operations:

DHS to Double US Drone Fleet By Trevor Timm, Electronic Frontier Foundation 22 November 12


Military drones zero in on $400 billion civilian market Science Daily reports By Chris WickhamPosted 2012/11/14 at 2:21 pm EST

[EXCERPTED] LONDON, Nov. 14, 2012 (Reuters) — Military drone technology, which has revolutionized warfare over the last decade, will be ready for civilian use within four years and could create a market worth more than $400 billion. That's the prediction from a UK research project backed by the government and top aerospace companies hoping for a windfall as many of the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs done by manned aircraft are replaced by drones....

....Chris Elliott, an engineer and barrister who is a consultant to the ASTRAEA project, acknowledged there will be a lot of work needed to win public acceptance but added: "The Pandora's Box is open".

The use of drones in war zones has thrown up difficult ethical issues, particularly on accountability for mistakes, and the shift into civilian use is likely to be just as controversial.

Expansion of covert military operations, involving drones

Oct 19, 2012
And there are even smaller ones under development, according to Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution. He described to ABC News in March a robotic drone with munitions “about the size of a rolled-up magazine.” ...

Jul 23, 2012
Drone Warfare and the Corruption of Personhood. The New York Times today has a long, convoluted essay on the ethical issues of using drones. The Moral Hazard of Drones by John Kaag and Sarah Kreps ...

Nov 05, 2012
Almost all think it ordinary to hear of drone strikes in Yemen or Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent revelation of counterterrorism bases in Africa elicits no surprise in them, nor do the military ceremonies that are now ...

Jul 06, 2012
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 ...

May 30, 2012
With its increase in drone strikes, the United States is turning away from the large-scale military interventions of the past decade and towards covert operations, beyond such known locations as Pakistan and Yemen. Check out ...

May 30, 2012
"America's Murderous Drone Campaign Is Fuelling Terror" By Seumas Milne, Guardian UK 30 May 12 [excerpt] "More than a decade ...

Jun 03, 2012
The article is addressing the question of what constitutes a lethal response in Yemen given escalating drone attacks by the US in that country: U.S. drone targets in Yemen raise questions. Greg Miller. Washington Post June 2 ...

Apr 22, 2012
The extensive uses of drones in war and, now, in domestic policing are extremely alarming and demonstrate that elite interests see all populations as potential threats. See "America's drone sickness" by Glen Greenwold at ...



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