Weekly Roundup 10/20

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

From October 6 to October 13, eight separate U.S. drone strikes hit targets in Pakistan’s Datta Khel and Shawal Valley, making it one of the most intensive weeks of U.S. targeted killing in the region in recent memory. Here’s what you need to know.


Britain’s Royal Air Force will re-deploy a pair of Reaper drones from Afghanistan to the Middle East, where the aircraft will take part in the campaign against the Islamic State. According to unnamed Ministry of Defence sources who spoke with the Telegraph, the drones, which can be armed, will be used to collect intelligence. Britain currently operates 10 MQ-9 Reaper drones from RAF Waddington, a base in Lincolnshire. It will be the first acknowledged deployment of British drones outside of Afghanistan.

Turkey will continue to allow American drones to fly from Incirlik Air Base to participate in the campaign against the Islamic State, but will not allow manned aircraft to be posted at the base. After the United States left Iraq in 2011, Incirlik, a U.S. airbase in southern Turkey, became home to many American surveillance and reconnaissance assets. Recently, it has been a flash-point in U.S.-Turkey relations, with the government in Ankara refusing to allow the base to be used for a more extensive operation in Iraq and Syria. (The Daily Beast)

A football match between Serbia and Albania was interrupted by a drone that flew over the field carrying the flag of ‘Greater Albania.’ The flag was ripped down by a Serbian player, setting off a brawl that eventually resulted in the cancellation of the match. The ‘Greater Albania’ insignia refers to a geographical area that would include all ethnic Albanians. It was the Albanian team’s first visit to Belgrade since 1967. (The Guardian)

A Yemeni man is suing the German government, alleging that it plays a role in facilitating U.S.  drone strikes. Faisal bin Ali Jaber says that his brother-in-law and nephew were killed by a U.S. drone in an August 2012 strike on a village in Yemen. Ali Jaber is being represented by Reprieve, a London-based human rights advocacy group that has filed similar petitions against the British government. (Associated Press)

The U.S. military bought a casino-resort in Indian Springs, Nevada in order to create an anti-terrorism security buffer zone around Creech Air Force Base, where many overseas drone aircraft are remotely operated. Indian Springs Holdings LLC was acquired by the U.S. Air Force for $11.45 million. It includes a motel, gas station, trailer park, and casino. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Prosecutors in New York dropped charges against two men who were arrested earlier this year for flying a drone too close to an NYPD helicopter. Wilkins Mendoza, 34, and Remy Castro, 23, had been charged with reckless endangerment. In a statement, Assistant District Attorney Nabilah Hossain said that their case would be better handled by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is pursuing administrative charges against the men. (New York Post)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

The Center for a New American Security released a new report on robots in war. “Robotics on the Battlefield Part II: the Coming Swarm,” written by Paul Scharre, considers how robots acting collectively will perform on a tactical and strategic level.

At Defense One, Marcus Weisgerber writes that despite the increase in demand for military drones, U.S. restrictions on exports are hampering sales to foreign nations.

At Real Clear Defense, Daniel Goure argues that the affordability of small drones will make them “the IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] of the next war.”

At the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Jack Serle reports that only 4% of those who have been killed in drone strikes were members of al-Qaeda.

Chris Anderson, the CEO of drone company 3D Robotics, predicts that the commercial drone market will far surpass the military market. (GeekWire)

At Forbes, John Goglia writes that new regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration place certified pilots who fly drones at particular risk of larger penalties.

At the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko unpacks former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s defense of drone strikes in his new book, Worthy Fights.

At the War Council blog, Major Matt Cavanaugh considers how a military strategy could best be tailored to drones.

At the New Republic, Jack Goldsmith and Matthew Waxman argue that President Obama—and not Bush—is the “master of unilateral war.”

And at Just Security, Shalev Roisman responds, arguing that while Goldsmith and Waxman bring up legitimate concerns, it is unfair and distracting to compare Bush and Obama.

In Washington State, law enforcement officers criticized initiatives to restrict police from using drones. (KPLU)

At Middle East Eye, Dimi Reider writes that Israeli drones will be monitoring the reconstruction of Gaza.

Know Your Drone

Airware, a company that designs autopilot software for drones, is teaming up with NASA to create an air traffic management system using cell phone networks. (Mashable)

A secretive Air Force space drone called the X-37B has returned to earth after a two-year mission in orbit. The Air Force has not publicly explained the purpose of the X-37B, or the mission. (EndGadget)

Defense One’s Patrick Tucker visited the Association of the United States Army convention to test out some of the latest military ground robots.

At IEEE Spectrum, Evan Ackerman looks at the challenges of getting drones to safely carry suspended loads.

Drone company 3D Robotics and Linux have announced the creation of Dronecode, a non-profit foundation that will create open-source drone platforms. (Dronecode)

At the Guardian, Nicola Davis lists six different robots that will “change the way we live.”

Drones at Work

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Vancouver Aquarium used drones to photograph killer whales. (NOAA)

Cold weather conditions in Ukraine could prevent Germany from sending drones to monitor the ceasefire between government and pro-Russian separatists forces. (Financial Times)

The local government of the town of Tarlac in the Philippines will begin using drones next year to watch for criminal and environmental threats. (Philippine Star)

The Federal Aviation Administration warned Central Hudson, a utilities company in New York State, that it cannot use drones without an FAA permit. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

For updates, news, and commentary, follow us on Twitter!

For Mashable’s take on the week in drone news, check out Drone Beat.

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