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Drones over US to get weaponized – so far, non-lethally

Published time: May 24, 2012 10:12
Edited time: May 24, 2012 14:13
Honeywell RQ-16A T-Hawk

Honeywell RQ-16A T-Hawk

American police officers may soon be able to use unmanned aircraft not only for surveillance, but also for offensive action. The drones may be equipped to fire rubber rounds and tear gas.

“Those are things that law enforcement utilizes day in and day out, and in certain situations it might be advantageous to have this type of system on the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle),” Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas told The Daily news app as he outlined the possible development.

The US military and CIA have used drones armed with lethal weapons to target militants overseas for years. The prospect of having “lite” versions of those remotely controlled killer-machines circling over America gave some second thoughts to rights groups.

“It’s simply not appropriate to use any force, lethal or non-lethal, on a drone,” Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told CBSDC.

She explained that an officer operating an armed drone from afar would simply not have the same understanding of a situation that an officer on location would have. So judgment on the use of force would be limited by this narrowness of observation.

“An officer at a remote location far away does not have the same level of access,”
she explained.

ACLU is also worried about the general atmosphere of pervasive surveillance that may engulf America as the use of drone technology becomes wider.

“We don’t need a situation where Americans feel there is an invisible eye in the sky,” said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at ACLU.

“The prospect of people out in public being Tased or targeted by force by flying drones where no officer is physically present on the scene,”
Crump added, “raises the prospect of unconstitutional force being used on individuals.”

There are other potential threats of a wide fleet of armed drones operating in a country. For instance, their communication is not tamper-proof, as the recent downing of an American spy drone by Iran showed. So malignant hackers may take over control of a police UAV and use it for nefarious ends.

The US Federal Aviation Administration allowed several public safety agencies to use drones domestically with fewer restrictions last week. UAVs weighting up to 11.3 kilos can now be operated by police, fire and similar departments without special approval.

The step moves forward a campaign for broader use of drones in America, which was launched by Congress in mid-February.

Comments (4)


mergon 31.01.2014 13:11

Yes you can see it now as some coked up new wave operator decides to release an EMP wave over a busy highway and causing chaos as all of the engines cut out!
Or perhaps we could have tear gas released over a demonstration and no one would held responsible !
The list is as endless as the the applications are for the drones !


Radha Santadharma 17.01.2014 02:25

That 11.3 KG limit will prevent automatic weapons and missiles, since the laws of momentum would cause the drone to go the opposite way of the bullet or missile.

Ru bber bullets don't need that much gunpowder, and tear gas canisters released without causing a drone to crash.

One does not need an RC copter or plane to down a drone. All one needs is all the channel frequencies that USmil has bought for its drones. Or, do it the hard way and get a RF detector to scope out the channels. That's what the Hezbollah did in Iran.

BTW the writer of the article is biased against hackers. This article is propaganda.


David 24.10.2013 20:48

A hacker's dream come true!!

View all comments (4)
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