While the drones are unarmed – Uncle Sam turned down an Italian request to fit the UAVs with weapons – their monitoring abilities will still be put to extensive use. Moreover, the Carabinieri should save quite a bit of cash by using the IAF's drones, rather than manned helicopters.
"We discussed the possibility of finding synergies with the Italian police, and realized it could be beneficial for both," said Col. Michele Oballa of the Italian Air Force. "The mission would be similar to some types of operations that we have done in Afghanistan, while for the police, the Predators offer persistence and concealment, something they cannot always get in certain specific contexts."
Drone use does bring about some safety concerns, particularly in how the UAVs will interact with other air traffic. Rather than shutting down the entirety of the airspace on the Predator or Reaper's flight plan, only a small bubble surrounding the drones would need to be limited.
"This all started in 2004 when we decided we wanted to fly UAVs in Italy," Col. Oballa told Defense News. "We have built up a level of confidence with Italy's civil aviation authority."