Military influence in police operations is not a phenomenon limited to the United States. A new partnership between the Italian police and the Italian Air Force will see Reaper and Predator drones, fresh from their service in Afghanistan, take to the skies over Rome and other major cities during major public demonstrations or soccer matches.
For the US Air Force, the dominance of drones has been bad news for some of the branch's most iconic aircraft. For the iconic U-2 "Dragon Lady," though, its manufacturer is fighting for the plane's future. Lockheed Martin is pushing the USAF to redevelop a trio of the high-flying jets so that they can be flown without a pilot in the cockpit.
America's use of drones in southeast Asia and the waters around China has been a bit of a contentious issue between the two countries, and now, it's starting to get really heated, as the People's Republic has successfully tested a drone-killing laser.
One of the most indelible marks left by US involvement in the war-torn Middle East is the use of drones. Specifically, we're talking about the notorious Predator and Reaper, two relatively small drones that are armed to the teeth with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. While America's use of the drones is well known, one of its closest allies has announced plans to dispatch the armed UAV to combat the ISIS threat.
America's controversial use of drone strikes has raised its share of eyebrows over the year, with questions ranging from their general legality to the targeting of US citizens to the accuracy of the intelligence info prompting the strikes themselves.
The US Navy will be pairing its newest ship, the controversial littoral combat ship, with one of its newest drones, the unmanned Fire Scout helicopter. Destined for duty aboard the USS Fort Worth, which is launching from San Diego later this year, it will mark the first time the helos have been deployed to the Pacific.
The US Navy's MQ-4C Triton drone has completed its first cross-country flight, traveling over 3,300 miles at altitudes up to 50,000 feet from Palmdale, CA along the southern border, towards Florida before turning north and heading up the Atlantic seaboard before landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, in Maryland.
With $10 billion in development costs, the Global Hawk UAV has been an expensive proposition for the US Air Force over the course of its 15-year life. The huge UAV – its wingspan is nearly 30-feet wider than a U-2 spy plane and it's only two feet shorter than an F-16 – has become a critical vehicle for the US military, although as Foxtrot Alpha explains, that significance isn't necessarily due to its reconnaissance abilities.
The US Navy's X-47B, its carrier-borne, unmanned combat air system has just completed a series of testing aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy has been kind enough to release footage of the drone's activities. While this isn't the first time the X-47 has operated from a carrier, it does mark the first occasion it's done so alongside active-duty aircraft, like the F/A-18 Hornet, making this a significant milestone in the UCAV's development.