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Thu, Apr 26, 2007

Armed Forces Duke It Out Over Who Will Control UAVs

USAF Versus Army, Navy And Marines

A turf battle of sorts has broken out among the US armed forces, over whether the Air Force should take the lead in development of all unmanned aerial vehicles used above 3,500 feet. What started as a beef between the Air Force and the Army, has now been joined by the Navy and Marine Corps.

The Air Force has UAVs that come in three flavors: The Predator, a larger craft called the Reaper (shown above), and the Global Hawk, bigger still. The Army rejected all three, wanting an armed UAV which fell between the capabilities of Reaper and Global Hawk. The Army calls its variant the Warrior, and wants to spend a billion dollars to buy 132 of them.

The Air Force contends it should oversee all high-altitude UAV programs, in the interest of efficiency. The Navy and Marines are backing the Army's call for autonomy in defining UAV missions and capabilities.

In Congress, Hawaii Democrat Representative Neil Abercrombie has threatened to make an arbitrary decision for the services, if they can't work things out.

"Who's in charge? Where is the authority?" Abercrombie asked during a recent hearing with officers, colonels and experts from the Government Accountability Office, reports the Army Times.

Time will tell...



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