Here They Come

The move to secure flying rights within US airspace for remotely piloted vehicles is squarely on the radar of Maj. Gen. Garry Dean, new boss at 1st Air Force/Air Forces North, who co-sponsored a conference on the effort earlier this month with Maj. Gen. Marke Gibson, Air Staff’s director of operations. Dean believes that RPVs will be vital to his command’s missions to provide homeland defense and aid disaster response by civil authorities. “We’re working toward developing standardized policies and procedures—a necessary template—for all services to integrate and gain FAA approval for domestic [unmanned aerial systems] operations,” said Dean. Dean plans to beef up RPV training at 1st AF and, working with NORAD and US Northern Command, to schedule the use of RPVs in domestic exercises beginning in 2011. So far their use has been limited to real-world operations, said Dean. (AFNORTH report by Carol Carpenter)