Global Opposition to U.S. Surveillance and Drones, but Limited Harm to America’s Image
Source: Pew Research Global Attitudes Project
Revelations about the scope of American electronic surveillance efforts have generated headlines around the world over the past year. And a new Pew Research Center survey finds widespread global opposition to U.S. eavesdropping and a decline in the view that the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its people. But in most countries there is little evidence this opposition has severely harmed America’s overall image.
A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth (PDF)
Source: American Public Transportation Association
This joint report produced with the U.S. Travel Assocation examines how cities with rail stations connected directly to airport terminals can realize increases in hotel performance. The report compares six cities with direct rail access from their airport terminal to five cities without. The analysis found that from 2006-2013, hotels in the cities with direct rail access brought in 10.9% more revenue per room than hotels in those cities without.
New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office
Military Training: Observations on Efforts to Prepare Personnel to Survive Helicopter Crashes into Water. GAO-14-615R, July 14.
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Enhancing Data Collection Could Improve Management of Investigations. GAO-14-553, June 30.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664515.pdf
2. Human Capital: DOD Should Fully Develop Its Civilian Strategic Workforce Plan to Aid Decision Makers. GAO-14-565, July 9.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664698.pdf
3. NOAA Aircraft: Aging Fleet and Future Challenges Underscore the Need for a Capital Asset Plan. GAO-14-566, July 9.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664708.pdf
4. Export-Import Bank: Information on Export Credit Agency Financing for Wide-Body Jets. GAO-14-642R, July 8.
1. Improper Payments: Government-Wide Estimates and Reduction Strategies, by Beryl H. Davis, director, financial management and assurance, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-737T, July 9.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664693.pdf
Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security
Source: RAND Corporation
Armed drones are making the headlines, especially in their role in targeted killings. In this report, RAND researchers stepped back and asked whether these weapons are transformative. The answer is no, though they offer significant capabilities to their users, especially in counterterrorism operations as has been the case for the United States. Will they proliferate? Yes, but upon a closer look at the types of systems, only a few rich countries will be in a position to develop the higher technology and longer range systems. U.S. adversaries and others will likely find weapons such as aircraft and air defenses more cost and militarily effective. Their proliferation will not create the kinds of global dangers that call for new arms control efforts, but the risks to regional stability cannot be dismissed entirely, as is the case of any conventional weapon. How the United States will use these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.
Small Drones for Community-Based Forest Monitoring: An Assessment of Their Feasibility and Potential in Tropical Areas
Data gathered through community-based forest monitoring (CBFM) programs may be as accurate as those gathered by professional scientists, but acquired at a much lower cost and capable of providing more detailed data about the occurrence, extent and drivers of forest loss, degradation and regrowth at the community scale. In addition, CBFM enables greater survey repeatability. Therefore, CBFM should be a fundamental component of national forest monitoring systems and programs to measure, report and verify (MRV) REDD+ activities. To contribute to the development of more effective approaches to CBFM, in this paper we assess: (1) the feasibility of using small, low-cost drones (i.e., remotely piloted aerial vehicles) in CBFM programs; (2) their potential advantages and disadvantages for communities, partner organizations and forest data end-users; and (3) to what extent their utilization, coupled with ground surveys and local ecological knowledge, would improve tropical forest monitoring. To do so, we reviewed the existing literature regarding environmental applications of drones, including forest monitoring, and drew on our own firsthand experience flying small drones to map and monitor tropical forests and training people to operate them. We believe that the utilization of small drones can enhance CBFM and that this approach is feasible in many locations throughout the tropics if some degree of external assistance and funding is provided to communities. We suggest that the use of small drones can help tropical communities to better manage and conserve their forests whilst benefiting partner organizations, governments and forest data end-users, particularly those engaged in forestry, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation projects such as REDD+.
Drones — Evaluation of UAS Class and EO Sensor Pay load Type for Applications in Hostage Crisis Missions
Evaluation of UAS Class and EO Sensor Pay load Type for Applications in Hostage Crisis Missions (PDF)
Source: International Journal of Unmanned Systems Engineering
Donohue V . (2014 ). Evaluation of UAS class and EO sensor payload type for applications in hostage crisis missions . International Journal of Unmanned Systems Engineering . 2 (1): 1 – 8 . Law Enforcement entities are tasked with ensuring the safety of citizen s to the best of their ability. They use every advantage at their disposal to capture and restrain criminals while reducing the risk to civilians. This ability is often limited by the constraints of slim and shrinking budgets. Departments with larger budgets and greater flexibility have historically taken advantage of airborne assets , most often helicopters, which provide a tremendous advantage against criminals due to enhanced surveillance, pursuit, and capture capability . The latest technological advancements in remote electronic sensing , along with major strides in aircraft automation and miniaturization , have allowed a surge in the implementation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Law Enforcement missions. This paper discusses the use of UAS by Law Enforcement in a hostage crisis situation. A scenario is presented and a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) is developed to thoroughly detail the mission goal, strategy and tactics . The class of UAS appropriate for the mission, including Micro Air Vehicles and small UAS , and a refined selection between fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft are identified . The Draganflyer X6 and the RAPTR ro tary wing UAVs are discussed in deciding what system best accomplishes the hostage crisis mission. Electro-optical sensors, including high definition video, l ow light level TV and infrared sensors , provide superior applicability. © Marques Engineering Ltd .
Survey: Flying Hassles Keep Travelers at Home
Source: U.S. Transportation Association
Security lines and checked-bag fees are among the well-publicized headaches of air travel, but passengers’ No. 1 concern is flight delays and cancellations, according to a survey conducted by the independent firm ResearchNow for the U.S. Travel Association.
An economic analysis of the survey results found that air travel hassles are taking their toll on the broader economy. Passengers’ frustration with the flying experience resulted in 38 million avoided domestic plane trips in 2013. Although air travel has steadily increased since the recession, 38 million trips is a loss equal to eight percent of current air travel demand.
That suppressed activity had a significant downstream effect on travel-related businesses and the overall economy, including spending losses of:
- $9.5 billion on airfare
- $5.8 billion on hotels
- $5.7 billion on recreation
- $3.4 billion on food services
- $2.8 billion on car rentals
The analysis found that cancellations and delays cost passengers themselves $8.5 billion in time lost, missed connections, and missed travel activity. The total hit to the U.S. economy: $35.7 billion.
Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation
Source: Council on Foreign Relations
The Obama administration should pursue a strategy that places clear limits on its own sale and use of armed drones lest these weapons proliferate and their use becomes widespread. These are the central findings of a new report by CFR Douglas Dillon Fellow Micah Zenko and Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow Sarah Kreps.
Although only five countries have developed armed drones—the United States, Britain, Israel, China, and Iran—several other countries have announced their own programs. “India reports that it will soon equip its drones with precision-guided munitions and hopes to mass-produce combat drones to conduct targeted strikes in cross-border attacks on suspected terrorists.Rebuffed by requests to procure U.S. armed drones, Pakistan said it will develop them indigenously or with China’s help to target the Taliban in its tribal areas.” The report also notes that “Turkey has about twenty-four types of drones in use or development, four of which have been identified as combat drones,” while Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Sweden “have collaborated on the Neuron, a stealth armed drone that made its first demonstration flight in December 2012.”
Zenko and Kreps lay out several reasons why armed drones are unique in their ability to destabilize relations and intensify conflict. Unmanned aircraft reduce the threshold for authorizing military action by eliminating pilot casualty, potentially increasing the frequency of force deployment. Because there is no onboard pilot, drones are less responsive to warnings that could defuse or prevent a clash. Furthermore, countries may fire on a manned fighter plane, mistaking it for an armed drone, which could increase the likelihood of conflict.
Recommendations And Report Of The Stimson Task Force On US Drone Policy
Source: Stimson Center
Few recent national security developments have been as controversial as the increased US reliance on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more colloquially known as “drones.” While UAVs have multiple peaceful and commercial applications, heated debates about the use of lethal UAV strikes away from traditional, territorially bounded battlefields have tended to crowd out a broader and more nuanced discussion of US UAV policy. This report represents a preliminary effort to offer analysis and recommendations that could help shape and guide US UAV policy going forward. It looks at the military and national security benefits of UAV technologies, analyzes our current approaches to UAV development and export, and seeks to contextualize the strategic questions relating to the use of lethal UAVs outside traditional battlefields. Ultimately, it offers eight detailed recommendations for overhauling UAV strategy; improving oversight, accountability and transparency; developing forward-looking international norms relating to the use of lethal force in nontraditional settings; and devising sound UAV export control and research and development policies.
New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Information Security: Additional Oversight Needed to Improve Programs at Small Agencies. GAO-14-344, June 25.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664420.pdf
2. Aviation Safety: Additional Oversight Planning by FAA Could Enhance Safety Risk Management. GAO-14-516, June 25.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664401.pdf
3. Traffic Safety: Alcohol Ignition Interlocks Are Effective While Installed; Less Is Known about How to Increase Installation Rates. GAO-14-559, June 20.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664282.pdf
4. Diplomatic Security: Overseas Facilities May Face Greater Risks Due to Gaps in Security-Related Activities, Standards, and Policies. GAO-14-655, June 25.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664423.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664325
1. Export-Import Bank: Status of GAO Recommendations on Risk Management, Exposure Forecasting, and Workload Issues, by Mathew J. Scirè, director, financial markets and community investment, before the House Committee on Financial Services. GAO-14-708T, June 25.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664379.pdf
2. Medicare Fraud: Further Actions Needed to Address Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, by Kathleen M. King, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-14-712T, June 25.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664382.pdf
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Medicaid Program Integrity: Increased Oversight Needed to Ensure Integrity of Growing Managed Care Expenditures. GAO-14-341, May 19.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663305.pdf
2. Coast Guard Acquisitions: Better Information on Performance and Funding Needed to Address Shortfalls. GAO-14-450, June 5.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663880.pdf
3. Defense Health Care: More-Specific Guidance Needed for TRICARE’s Managed Care Support Contractor Transitions. GAO-14-505, June 18.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664197.pdf
4. Management Report: Areas for Improvement in the Federal Reserve Banks’ Information Systems Controls. GAO-14-691R, June 18.
1. Coast Guard Acquisitions: Better Information on Performance and Funding Needed to Address Shortfalls, by Michele Mackin, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-14-650T, June 18.
2. Airport Funding: Aviation Industry Changes Affect Airport Development Costs and Financing, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Aviation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-14-658T, June 18.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664187.pdf
3. Civilian Intelligence Community: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Reporting on and Planning for the Use of Contract Personnel, by Timothy J. DiNapoli, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-692T, June 18.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664169.pdf
4. VA Health Care: Further Action Needed to Address Weaknesses in Management and Oversight of Non-VA Medical Care, by Randall B. Williamson, director, health care, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-696T, June 18.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664172.pdf
Airport Response to Special Events
Source: Transportation Research Board
TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) has release the prepublication version of Synthesis 57: Airport Response to Special Events, which explores how airports plan, manage, and recover from special events in order to help minimize the event’s effects on an airport’s regular operations.
The synthesis explores issues related to planning, organizing, and applying lessons learned, as well as addressing potential surprises and impacts on operations and customer services related to a variety of non-aeronautical events that occur both on and off an airport. ACRP Synthesis 57 offers six case examples designed to help demonstrate how airports of all sizes plan, manage, and recover from special events.
ACRP Synthesis 57 can serve as a companion document to ACRP Synthesis 41: Conducting Aeronautical Special Events at Airports. ACRP Synthesis 41 focuses on aeronautical events such as air shows, airport open houses, aircraft static displays, and fly-ins.
FAA Approves First Commercial UAS Flights over Land
Source: Federal Aviation Administration
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has given approval for energy corporation BP and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer AeroVironment to fly an AeroVironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska—the first time the FAA has authorized a commercial UAS operation over land.
New GAO Report and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Surface Ships: Navy Needs to Revise Its Decommissioning Policy to Improve Future Decision Making. GAO-14-412, June 11.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664052.pdf
2. Airline Competition: The Average Number of Competitors in Markets Serving the Majority of Passengers Has Changed Little in Recent Years, but Stakeholders Voice Concerns about Competition. GAO-14-515, June 11.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664061.pdf
3. Department of Defense’s Waiver of Competitive Prototyping Requirement for the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2, Block 1 Program. GAO-14-643R, June 11.
1. U.S. Currency: Actions Needed to Improve Coin Inventory Management, by Lorelei St. James, director, physical infrastructure, before the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, House Committee on Financial Services. GAO-14-601T, June 11.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664044.pdf
U.S. Air Force Bomber Sustainment and Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The United States’ existing long-range bomber fleet of B-52s, B-1s, and B-2s are at a critical point in their operational life span. With the average age of each airframe being 50, 28, and 20 years old, respectively, military analysts are beginning to question just how long these aircraft can physically last and continue to be credible weapon systems. As potential adversaries acquire twenty-first century defense systems designed to prevent U.S. access to the global commons (sea, air, space, and cyberspace) and to limit U.S. forces’ freedom of action within an operational area, the ability of these Cold War era bombers to get close enough to targets to be effective will continue to deteriorate. Although the Air Force is committed to the development and acquisition of its proposed Long-Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B), it is anticipated that flight-testing of the new bomber will not start until the mid-2020s, with initial operational capability near 2030. With this timeline in mind, the Air Force has extended the operational lives of the B-52 and B-1 out to 2040 and the B-2 out to 2058. Air Force and aerospace industry experts insist that with sufficient funding for sustainment and modernization over their expected lifespans, all three of the existing bombers can physically last and continue to remain credible weapon systems. However, appropriations decisions made by Congress based on required military capabilities to meet national security objectives will ultimately determine how long the B-52, B-1, and B-2 will remain in service.
Sequestration and the Future of the Air Force Aircraft Industrial Base
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies
Since the “Last Supper” in 1993 and the resulting industrial base consolidation, there has been alarm regarding the long-term health of the industrial base supporting the U.S. Air Force and the broader aerospace market. Whereas the Department of Defense (DoD) once benefitted from a robust universe of suppliers, that base has shrunken to just a few large prime vendors providing increasingly exquisite systems. Just recently, in response to questioning by Senator Angus King (I-ME), Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work identified the aerospace industry as “the area of the industrial base under the greatest threat.”
Without signs of relief from budget caps beyond 2015, concern for the long-term health of the aerospace industrial base only continues to grow. How healthy is the Air Force aircraft industrial base, and what are the future acquisition programs poised to shape the industrial base for the next 20 years?
Best Practices Manual for Working In or Near Airport Movement Areas
Source: Transportation Research Board
TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 101: Best Practices Manual for Working In or Near Airport Movement Areas consists of a best practices database; training tools, aids, and checklists; and a 45-minute video that provide guidance on best practices for a myriad of airport activities.
The guidance is designed to help introduce new employees, tenants, or contractors to the airport environment.
The video, Staying Safe on the Airfield, follows an airport operations supervisor training a new employee by discussing hazards and the appropriate best practices for eliminating or mitigating risks while working in or near the airport movement area. The database, video, and training tools, and aids and checklists are provided on a CD-ROM that is included with the print version of the report.