The FAA’s decision to loosen rules governing the operation of commercial and recreational drones in civil airspace is good news for a wide array of users. Political pressure helped to bring about the change. Ironically, though, political constraints are making it harder for the military to tap the full warfighting potential of unmanned aircraft. The Air Force says if its doesn’t get relief from congressionally-mandated budget caps, it will have to retire many drones and forego upgrades to others. The Army is having trouble getting Congress to go along with plans to team National Guard helicopters with drones in recon missions. And the Navy’s plan for a carrier-based surveillance and strike drone has been repeatedly challenged by key legislators. Thus, the profession that pioneered in using drones is in danger of falling behind. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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