Military Battles for Drone Control

Branches vie with each other for high-tech craft

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 20, 2007 1:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – New enemies are hovering over America's unmanned drone aircraft—branches of the US armed forces battling each other for control of the high-tech flyers. The Air Force is lobbying Congress for exclusive control over purchasing and developing the spy planes, a move opposed by the Army, Navy and Marines. 

Air Force generals want to streamline development to avoid duplication and contain costs, and to centralize control of the drones at its Nevada base. But others argue that competition between the branches of the military will spur innovation, and Army officials insist that centralization will reduce responsiveness. The House has ordered a panel to examine the status of the drones.

Two visitors chat next to the RQ4 Block20 Global Hawk, a Northrop Grumman American company made, high altitude unmanned aerial reconnaissance system, designed to provide military field commanders with imagery of large geographic areas, at the Bourget airport, during the 47th Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris,...
Two visitors chat next to the RQ4 Block20 Global Hawk, a Northrop Grumman American company made, high altitude unmanned aerial reconnaissance system, designed to provide military field commanders with...   (Associated Press)
This undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a pilot less Predator. The use of unmanned aircraft in Iraq has surged by nearly a third since the build-up of U.S. forces began early this year, racking up more than 14,000 hours per month in...
This undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a pilot less Predator. The use of unmanned aircraft in Iraq has surged by nearly a third since the build-up of U.S. forces began early this...   (Associated Press)
An MQ-4 Predator controlled by the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron stands on the tarmac at Balad Air Base, 50 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq Thursday, June 21, 2007. The Air Force plans to replace this robot aircraft soon with the larger MQ-9 Reaper. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)
An MQ-4 Predator controlled by the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron stands on the tarmac at Balad Air Base, 50 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq Thursday, June 21, 2007. The Air Force plans to replace...   (Associated Press)
President Bush, right, looks at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Predator Drone aircraft upon his arrival at Yuma International Airport in Yuma, Ariz., Monday, April 9, 2007. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is at left. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
President Bush, right, looks at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Predator Drone aircraft upon his arrival at Yuma International Airport in Yuma, Ariz., Monday, April 9, 2007. Homeland Security Secretary...   (Associated Press)
Reaper Aircraft Flies Without Pilot From Creech AFB
Reaper Aircraft Flies Without Pilot From Creech AFB   (Getty Images)
NASA Tests Unmanned Aircraft Collision Avoidance
NASA Tests Unmanned Aircraft Collision Avoidance   (Getty Images)
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