A massive experimental drone designed by Boeing Co. engineers to fly for up to four days at a time completed its first test flight above the Mojave Desert at Edwards Air Force Base.
The drone, called Phantom Eye, and its hydrogen-fueled propulsion system have the potential to vastly expand the reach of military spy craft. The longest that reconnaissance planes can stay in the air now is about 30 hours.
With a 150-foot wingspan and an egg-shaped fuselage, the drone was built at Boeing's Phantom Works complex in St. Louis with engineering support from its facilities in Huntington Beach. The drone is designed to spy over vast areas at an altitude of up to 65,000 feet.
There's the Pirate Bay's answer to how they can keep their server locations secret. Three of these aircraft could cover seven days a week, keeping a mobile server truck/boat/tardis hooked up to the Internet with untraceable tight beam communications. That's what Boeing wants to sell it to the Army to do as well no doubt, instant battlefield wi-fi hookup. Or just to look in some guy's bedroom window for four days straight, it could do that too.
Next, CBS Los Angeles has some news weenie who looked into the drone thing a bit. He says he has evidence that the US Air Force has been doing drone operations and sharing information with federal state and local law enforcement.
All that means that if some flying eyeball "accidentally" sees something in your yard, the cops don't need a warrant to get it and use it in court. Fun, eh?
What has critics alarmed is that data collected by drones accidentally, under the guidelines, can be kept by the military up to three months before being purged and can also be turned over to "another Department of Defense or government agency to whose function it pertains."
The Air Force guidelines permit using drones domestically to assist law enforcement in "investigating or preventing clandestine intelligence activities by foreign powers, international narcotics activities , or international terrorist activities." More vague is language that also allows military cooperation with local law enforcement for the purposes of "preventing, detecting, or investigating other violations of law."
Oh, and the same article has this bit of news:
Because California is broke, and helicopters are expensive, guess what the decision is going to be? Go ahead, guess.
Drone manufacturers are gearing up to pitch an estimated 18,000 police departments in the U.S. on the benefits of flying drones.
Many law enforcement agencies in Southern California — including the LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department — are evaluating the usefulness of drones in the greatly restricted and highly congested airspace that surrounds the L.A. basin.
Next, the EPA has been using drone aircraft to spy on... wait for IT... cows. No shit, they're spying on cows.
Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is using aerial drones to spy on farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. The surveillance came under scrutiny last week when Nebraska's congressional delegation sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
This revelation elucidates something I wrote about last month, that the listed drone sites in the continental USA are not where one would think they'd be. Because there's a lot of them in big, flat farm states. Like there's two in Kansas, where nothing ever happens. Well, this apparently is one reason why those sites are out there in Flyover Country. So the EPA can troll the countryside looking for farmers to bust. Isn't that an awesome use of tax money? Because you know, farmers are like totally rolling in dough the EPA can fine out of them, right?
Finally, the Daily Mail wants to know what the mother of all frickin' drones, the X-37B unmanned space plane has been doing in orbit for almost a year.
The U.S Air Force's highly secret unmanned space plane will land in June - ending a year-long mission in orbit.
The experimental Boeing X37-B has been circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour and was due to land in California in December. It is now expected to land in mid to late June.
Last May, amateur astronomers were able to detect the orbital pattern of the first X-37B which included flyovers of North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, heightening the suspicion that the vehicle was being used for surveillance.
Other industry analysts have speculated that the Air Force is just making use of the X-37B's amazing fuel efficiency and keeping it in space for as long as possible to show off its credentials and protect it from budget cuts.