In response to:

Is There a Drone In Your Backyard?

*Cato* Wrote: May 17, 2012 2:09 PM
The Judge is overstating the case. There are only 200 or so drones (actually MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers) in the inventory. General Atomics is the manufacturer and each unit costs 5-9 million, depending on the airframe and sensor package. The supply line only provides 100 airframes per year, on a good year. So, the math tells us it will take 300 years to get to his magical 30K number. MQ-1s and MQ-9s cannot fly over private property (and most public property) because the FAA will not allow routes over unrestricted airspace due to the fact that the airframes are unmanned. I usually nod my head in agreement with The Judge on most of his columns, but this one is truly a whopper.
Chief2Dogz Wrote: May 17, 2012 4:41 PM
As to the FAA rules, nobody would ever fly a drone where it is not allowed. Here is proof:

http://www.infowars.com/spy-drone-almost-causes-mid-air-collision-with-jet-over-denver/
Chief2Dogz Wrote: May 17, 2012 3:40 PM
What are you smoking?

There most certainly are customers. Government customers with deep pockets. These potential customers are local state and federal. Also, foreign governments will be interested in the developing technology. There are so many potential customers that the profitability outlook is fantastic.

What is 24?

*Cato* Wrote: May 17, 2012 3:31 PM
Big-time dreaming.

No assumptions on my part -- however, one BIG assumption on your part -- that being an actual customer in the domestic "drone" surveillance business. There is no customer in that business, therefore no profit incentive, therefore no develpment and production, therefore a huge pipedream. Must have watched 24 one too many times.
Chief2Dogz Wrote: May 17, 2012 3:05 PM
SATCOM is only needed when the drones is in a remote location on the other side of the world. Domestically flying drones have other options including line-of-sight, and mobile phone technologies.

Newer, cheaper, better, more accurate, more efficient models are constantly being developed. The profit incentive is there, they will be developed and produced. This goes for the air-frames and the sensor, optics, electronic reception packages.

You have made many assumptions.
Chief2Dogz Wrote: May 17, 2012 3:04 PM
You assume that SATCOM bandwidth is needed for domestic drone surveillance.

You assume that the only drones that are or will be available are the current military versions.

You assume that the only sensor and optics packages on current models are the only ones that can go on the current models. (no further development, you must be kidding.)

SATCOM is only needed when the drones is in a remote location on the other side of the world. Domestically flying drones have other options including line-of-sight, and mobile phone technologies.

Newer, cheaper, better, more accurate, more efficient models are constantly being developed. The profit incentive is there, they will be developed and produced. This goes for the air-frames and the s

*Cato* Wrote: May 17, 2012 3:00 PM
In addition, in order for the FAA to change air corridor routes from unrestricted airspace to Class-C or Class-D airspace, Congressional approval is required, as well as pre-coordination by every Int'l Airport Authority and every municpal airport board in the US that is affected. Lastly, changing the FAA NOTAMs requires state-by-state approval. It ain't beanbag.
*Cato* Wrote: May 17, 2012 2:54 PM
Oh, I think about this stuff quite often, since I make my living in the "drone" industry.

The Army and Navy operate the Hunter and Shadow systems for battlefield management -- not much of an operating radius for either airframe. And the sensor and optics packages are low-grade for each. And they only operate line-of-sight.

In addition to MQ-1 and MQ-9, the AF also operates the RQ-4 Global Hawk (Block 40 version); the Block 30 will be retired in FY13. They also operate the -120 Sentinel, same one that went down in Iran.

Bottomline is there isn't enough SATCOM bandwidth globally to operate even the 200 airframes in the inventory at one time. It would take many satellite launches to come even close to providing the KU-band or K-band...
Chief2Dogz Wrote: May 17, 2012 2:20 PM
You must be joking, or perhaps not really thinking.

1. Predators and Reapers are not the only kinds of surveillance drones, just the the biggest and baddest. Smaller and cheaper surveillance drones could surely be made.

2. The current capability to produce any product is never static. If the demand goes up, capacity to produce will go up, so if the dollars are there, (extracted by borrowing and printing should make it easy) and the demand is there, they will be built.

3. FAA rules can be changed to accommodate the current regime.

Earlier this week, the federal government announced that the Air Force might be dispatching drones to a backyard near you. The stated purpose of these spies in the sky is to assist local police to find missing persons or kidnap victims, or to chase bad guys.

If the drone operator sees you doing anything of interest (Is your fertilizer for the roses or to fuel a bomb? Is that Sudafed for your cold or your meth habit? Are you smoking in front of your kids?), the feds say they may take a picture of you and keep it. The...

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