The Department of Defense has identified 110 sites in the United States that could serve as bases for military unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones. A new report to Congress lists each of the 110 sites “and the UAS likely to fly at that location.” See “Report to Congress on Future Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training, Operations, and Sustainability,” Department of Defense, April 2012 (pp. 9-12).
The newly disclosed DoD report was first reported by InsideDefense.com.
The actual or potential drone bases are located in 39 of the 50 states, from Fort McClellan in Alabama to Camp Guernsey in Wyoming, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico.
Currently, the DoD and the military have “88 active certificates of authorization (COAs) at various locations around the country” that permit them to fly UASs outside of restricted military zones, the report to Congress said. COAs are issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
But “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.
The Senate Armed Services Committee, evidently receptive to this demand, said in its report on the FY2013 defense authorization act that integration of drones into domestic airspace should be accelerated. See “Senate: Drones Need to Operate ‘Freely and Routinely’ in U.S.,” Secrecy News, June 8, 2012.
“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 new DoD report to Congress said.
A bill “to protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles” (HR 5925) was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 7 by Rep. Austin Scott. A companion bill (S.3287) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul.