Weekly Roundup 6/22/15

An ongoing campaign in Ukraine aims to crowdfund a drone (pictured) for the Ukrainian military. Credit: People's Drone, People's Project.
An ongoing campaign in Ukraine aims to crowdfund a drone (pictured) for the Ukrainian military. Credit: People’s Drone, People’s Project.

6/15/15 – 6/21/15

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At the Center for the Study of the Drone

In a recent report on China’s military capabilities, the Department of Defense told Congress that China will manufacture up to 42,000 military drones for its military and for export by 2023. In the past few years, China has begun investing heavily in a number of military drone programs, including development programs for stealth and strike unmanned aircraft. The international community is tracking these programs closely. Here’s what you need to know.


The White House announced that it has killed al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. Nasir al-Wuhayshi was killed in a drone strike on June 9 in Mukalla, a port city in southern Yemen. His death was confirmed by a statement by AQAP. (Associated Press) For more on al-Qaeda leaders killed in U.S. drone strikes, click here.

The U.S. House Committee on Commerce held a hearing on the future of commercial drones. The Committee heard testimony by representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, Amazon, and other groups. Michael Whitaker, the deputy administrator of the FAA, said at the hearing that commercial drone regulations would be in place within one year. Paul Misener, a vice president at Amazon, announced that Amazon’s drone delivery service will be ready by the time regulations are in place. (Reuters)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation that, if passed, could result in stricter rules for recreational drone users. The Consumer Drone Safety Act includes a mandate to the FAA to regulate non-commercial drones and would require manufacturers to implement geofencing in consumer drones. (Press Release)

In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge ruled that the Central Intelligence Agency is not obligated to disclose information pertaining to U.S. drone strikes. The ruling, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer, contradicts a 2013 ruling by a federal appeals court requiring the CIA to be more transparent on drone strikes. (Politico)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At the Washington Post, Greg Miller reports that the CIA was not aware that Nasir al-Wuhayshi would be among the militants targeted in a drone strike on June 9.

At the Long War Journal, Thomas Joscelyn reports that, in the wake of Nasir al-Wuhayshi’s death in a drone strike, AQAP publicly executed several men accused of being spies for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

At Motherboard, Shawn Musgrave takes a look inside the Department of Homeland Security’s test site for operating drones in urban environments.

Also at Motherboard, Christian Borys speaks with Jacob Cereteli, the man behind an online campaign to crowdfund a new drone for the Ukrainian military.

At the New York Times, Christopher Drew and Dave Phillipps write that the increasing demand for aerial intelligence within the U.S. military is taking a toll on drone pilots and operators, resulting in fewer Air Force drone missions.

Meanwhile, at Defense One, Patrick Tucker speaks with U.S. drone pilots and an Air Force psychologist in order to better understand the degree to which flying unmanned aircraft is affecting the human operators.

Also at Defense One, Molly O’Toole questions whether targeted killing is an effective strategy in the war against al-Qaeda.

In a joint letter, 45 former U.S. military personnel call on U.S. drone operators to refuse to carry out their missions. (The Guardian)

At the Guardian, Trevor Timm argues that recent U.S. drone strikes indicate that there are few rules governing the CIA’s targeted killing program.

At the Daily Beast, David Axe reports that drones are becoming more involved in the U.S. air campaign against ISIS/ISIL.

In a podcast at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Chris Woods considers how other Western nations have reacted to the deaths of their citizens in U.S. drone strikes.

At Lawfare, Robert Chesney considers the evolution of Congressional oversight of the Pentagon’s special forces raids to kill or capture leaders of al-Qaeda.

At the House Commerce Committee’s hearing on commercial drones, Harley Geiger of the Center for Democracy and Technology warned of the dangers to privacy posed by the use of drones by law enforcement agencies. (The Guardian)

On CBC’s Day 6, Barrie Kirk, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, discusses the effects that autonomous trucks will have on jobs in Canada’s mining industry.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Stephen Rohde argues that the policy of targeted killings erodes some key tenets of the Magna Carta.

At Popular Science, Kelsey D. Atherton went through the Pentagon’s new manual on the laws of war to find any references to drones.

At the Motley Fool, Sam Mattera suggests that investors looking to put money in drones should take a look at these four companies.

Know Your Drone

The Russian military has claimed to have successfully developed a microwave gun capable of disabling aerial drones from up to 6 miles away. (International Business Times)

Hobby drone company Extreme Flyers has unveiled a Kickstarter campaign to create a gimbal-equipped micro-drone that is capable of live streaming HD video. (Mashable)

Canadian company EnergyOr has created a hydrogen fuel cell for multirotor drones. The company claims that a drone equipped with its fuel cell was able to fly for 3 hours and 43 minutes without landing, a new record. (EnergyOr Press Release)

Defense contractor MBDA Germany has tested a high-powered anti-drone laser, destroying a small drone at a range of 500 meters. (Defense News)

Israeli defense contractor Aeronautics has unveiled a surveillance and reconnaissance drone that can be used as a guided missile. (Aviation Week)

A company called UAV Turbines, Inc. announced a new turbo generator called the Engine-in-a-Box that it claims solves some of the complications that gas turbine drone engines. (Engineering.com)

Drones at Work

Frontex, the European Union’s border security agency, is planning to use drones to help find and assist migrants who make the dangerous sea crossing from Africa to Europe. (Reuters)

Lifeguards are using drones to spot sharks that come too close to shore. (Discover Magazine)

Over a dozen media companies are testing drones for newsgathering in a simulated exercise in Virginia. (Motherboard)

In Delmarva, Maryland, farmers are using drones to cut down on water usage and pesticides. (DelmarvaNow)

Scientists in Idaho are using drones to map sagebrush, the habitat for sage grouse and pygmy rabbits. (KTVB.com)

In Australia, the Environmental Protection Authority is considering using drones to monitor waste disposal sites. (The National)

A drone offered an aerial perspective of the Paris Air Show. (FlightGlobal)

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