This article is from back in mid-February and was posted by the times union. Currently Hancock is involved in the remote killing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and who knows where else. They are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the deadly Reaper drones.
Come to the demonstration in Syracuse at Hancock on April 22nd. If you can make the time, join one of the walks to Syracuse from Ithaca or Rochester.
Big eye' has Adirondack sights
Plan for drone flights spurs privacy concern
By DENNIS YUSKO Staff writer
Published 12:00 a.m., Saturday, February 12, 2011
Map of military flight corridors for the MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Adirondacks. (New York Air National Guard)
Campers in the Adirondack Mountains could spot a strange, new bird in the sky this summer: military drones.
The New York Air National Guard wants to start launching regular surveillance flights of MQ-9 "Reapers" above the Adirondacks in August or September to train drone crews for bombing and intelligence missions. Airmen with the 174th Fighter Wing would fly the unmanned planes via satellite from command centers at Fort Drum and the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse. Flights would take off from Fort Drum in Jefferson County and be guided from Syracuse.
The fighter wing wants to drill in the Adirondacks to prepare flight controllers and videographers for drone combat missions in Afghanistan, which the unit has conducted since November 2009.
"The airspace is second to none," Col. Kevin Bradley, commander of the fighter wing, said in a phone interview. "We're going to do the same training procedures that we use to support the soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan."
The Reapers would not carry weapons and would make less noise than the unit's F-16s that had previously used the mountain airspace for training. But they would be equipped with powerful day and night cameras that could focus on random vehicles and locations for training, leaders of the air wing have said.
The training still requires approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. Air National Guard officials explained their plans to members of the Adirondack Park Agency last month. Initial flights would start above 18,000 feet and stay within 30 miles of Fort Drum, Bradley said. The trips would then extend into established military flying corridors within the Adirondack Park that could reach as close to the Capital Region as Lake Luzerne in Warren County.
The FAA does not presently allow drones to take off from Hancock Field, citing safety concerns about them sharing airspace and runways with commercial aircraft.
On Thursday, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced his support for naming Hancock Field a national drone test site, and increasing the number of such sites in the country from four to 10. That designation would equip the base with FAA-approved technology that could potentially lead to drones flying out of Syracuse, and "jobs and millions of dollars in high-tech investment to Syracuse," Schumer said.
The proposed Reaper flights over the six-million-acre park would expand the Department of Defense's use of drones to the country's eastern half, and reflects the increased reliance on remotely piloted planes. But some activists are concerned that domestic drones could violate Americans' privacy. Others feel their use abroad has engendered hatred against the U.S.
The New York American Civil Liberties Union will track any drone use in New York, and intends to press the fighter wing for information on what images it would collect, said Melanie Trimble, director of the ACLU's Capital Region Chapter. It also wants to know who would have access to pictures taken and what the military plans to do with them.
"The whole idea raises significant privacy concerns," Trimble said. "No one that is out fishing or hiking in the Adirondacks should be afraid that their image is going to end up in a database."
Known as "the big eye in the sky," the MQ-9 has a 66-foot wingspan, can drop 500-pound bombs and stay in the air for more than 15 hours. They're effective in Afghanistan and other places where anti-aircraft fire is minimal. They have killed high-ranking terrorists, but also civilians. The CIA is reportedly using drones in Pakistan.
Anti-war protestors picket the Syracuse base regularly. Some activists in the Adirondacks and Capital Region say that drones cause more problems than they solve.
Martha Swan, a teacher who lives in Westport, Essex County, believes drone warfare is "deeply disturbing and highly immoral." The remote-controlled bombings, initiated from the safety of the United States, claim the lives of innocents, which she said doesn't make America safer. She also objects to military's recording of images at home during training flights.
"It's kind of a Big Brother thing," she said.
Drone sites in the U.S. could also become targets for those wishing to harm the U.S., said John Amidone of Albany, a member of Veterans for Peace.
Unmanned aircraft are frequently used along the southern U.S. border, and were used for a month in northern New York by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2009, according to reports. Police agencies in several states now use different versions of them, as well.
About 50 companies, universities and government organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned aircraft designs in the U.S., according to the FAA.
The Air Force and Air National Guard have reported 10 significant or "class-A" accidents involving Reapers, including seven caused by human error.
The Air Guard anticipates performing one training sortie a day in the Adirondacks, with most flights lasting about five hours, Bradley said. Any surveillance would be archived, destroyed or taped over, he said.
Leaders of the park agency and the Adirondack Mountain Club, which represents outdoor enthusiasts, view the drone training exercises as a necessary price for military readiness. The park agency has asked the Air Guard to avoid flying above areas where people congregate, its spokesman Keith McKeever said.
The flying of drones will affect users of the Adirondacks far less than some of the F-16s, A-10s and helicopters that have flown there in the past because the unmanned crafts operate higher and quieter, said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the mountain club.
Fort Drum is expected to receive its first two Reapers this spring, with 12 more coming over the next three years, Bradley said. Two drones at the Hancock base are used for maintenance instruction.
Bradley says he appreciates all opinions, but said that the MQ-9 is not a "marauding" aircraft. "It is quite an amazing value to America in terms of its capability," Bradley said. "If you talk to any soldier who has been on the ground with a remotely piloted aircraft, they'll probably tell that it's saved lives."
-thanks to the timesunion