Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Call for "No Drones" in Kentucky Colleges, Universities, and Research Institutions

Friends,

A national call has been made for “April Days of Action” to focus on three key components of U.S. drone work: Drone Manufacturers, Drone Bases in the U.S., and Drone Research. (See the list about nationwide actions and post your own planned actions for April.)

Given the fact that drones are now the primary weapons of warfare used by the US, and for surveillance both domestic and abroad, the research and development of this warfare is growing rapidly at academic institutions, in our towns and neighborhoods. Drones are the perfect instrument for endless war that kills civilians, even as they target “militants” in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

Academic institutions often receive large grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, enabling them to build labs within schools of engineering, for instance. We are well aware that without this research in robotics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and the accompanying accessories, these drone warfare projects would probably not take place. So there is an interdependent relationship between the universities and the U.S. government and or its Department of Defense and CIA. (CIA drones are used in countries with which the U.S. is not “at war”, ie Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali, and others.)

While universities tend to publicize some information on their respective websites regarding the drone work, it is most often said to be for non-military purposes. And there are students working in the labs who are convinced that all the research is for humanitarian purposes. However, history has told us that non-military can quickly and easily become military. Moreover research has shown drones make mistakes on recognizing their targets.

We are therefore asking organizations and individuals, nationwide, to explore any drone research that might be going on at their local university. We are calling for local actions between April 16 and 18, 2013 (Suggested actions are listed below) Our limited research into University and Academic UAV programs indicates that at least one research center is operating in Kentucky:
University of Kentucky - Lexington
Before those dates in April we will need to know what information you have acquired about the research and what actions and events your group is planning.This will be shared among groups in the Network. You can send this information to us at notodrone@gmail.com.

We will have a press committee that will receive your press release and any articles you are able to publish before or after the event.

This project will complement other outreach, education and action projects that will be launched in April, focusing on drone bases, April 27-28 and drone manufacturers , April 4-6.

Suggested actions:
  1. Learn what research is being done by searching on a university website. Look especially at the Engineering Dept. 
  2. Organize a forum, preferably on campus, with speakers and discussion. Be sure to publicize in campus newspapers, and possibly include a professor as one of the speakers. Also include local activists.
  3. Plan a small meeting with the appropriate persons in the department working on drone research, both professors and students.
  4. Hold vigils and leaflet on or close to the campus, as well as in town.
  5. Let us know if you need further tools for your research.
Thanks in advance for your reply to notodrone@gmail.com.

With all good wishes,

Marge Van Cleef, WILPF, Philadelphia
Leila Zand, For USA
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Bigger and Better" Drones Coming to Kentucky Skies?

 According to the Department of Defense Report to Congress on Future Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training, Operations, and Sustainability (April 2012), Kentucky has four locations that have been designated as potential basing locations for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) [i.e. drones] (p. 8 ff.).


The table below gives information on the types of drones that are proposed for basing at each location.

BASE Predator/Reaper type Shadow/Raven type Other
Fort Campbell MQ1C RQ-11B, RQ-7B Puma, Viking
Corbin RQ-11B Wasp, Puma
Lexington RQ-11B Wasp, Puma
Fort Knox RQ-11B, RQ-7B


Fort Campbell has a $68 million hangar construction project for FY 2012 for basing the MQ-IC Gray Eagle (DOD report, p. 15). The Gray Eagle is an an Extended-Range Multi-Purpose (ERMP) drone, an upgrade of the MQ-1 Predator.

The report further discloses that the RQ-7B Shadow is operated from Fort Knox, under the status "Locations Requiring COAs [Certificate of Waiver or Authorization]". ("Locations where the Army currently conducts operations outside of Restricted Areas that require a COA from the FAA. In the majority of these locations, the purpose of the COA is to transition from the launch site to adjacent Restricted Areas. Additionally, the Raven can be operated using DoD-FAA agreed-to Class G airspace notification procedures for flights flown over Government-owned or -leased land." (DOD report, p. 20))

The background image for this blog is the picture shown at left, in which a member of the 101st Airborne Division (AD), Fort Campbell, Kentucky (KY), "prepar[es] to launch a Raven unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Forward Operations Base (FOB) McHenry, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The Soldiers will fly the Raven over Route Trans-Am to scan for Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)" (from the Department of Defense's "Armed with Science" website).

When will we see soldiers launching drones in Kentucky?