A planning document uncovered by WND reveals that the Obama administration is hiding certain details from the public – including costs and the names of decision-makers – regarding “special projects” governing the federal government’s global deployment of U.S. and ally drones.
The document indicates the government is extending support of unidentified Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCOs, for up to 15 additional months.
A break in service also could have affected what was, as of January, the “imminent release” of armed MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drones to new Foreign Military Sales, or FMS, customers, the document says.
The U.S. Army Contracting Command therefore is sticking with an existing contractor to keep alive the program-support segment of the Medium Altitude Unmanned Aircraft Systems Special Projects initiative.
Interrupting these services through competitive bidding also would have jeopardized drone operations already under way by British, French and Italian allies, it says.
Although the Army did not identify specific problems with the drones, it acknowledged that sustained contractor support is critical to resolving issues with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, provided to these allies via the FMS program.
“Any disruption in this support could preclude their participation in operations vital to United States foreign policy objectives,” says a partially redacted Justification for Exception to Fair Opportunity document.
All cost data – in addition to the names of military contracting officials and legal counsel who approved the no-bid contract extension – are blacked out.
Dynamics Research Corp., or DRC, will continue to provide “essential functions” that include deficiency reporting, quality/product assurance and flight test engineering under contract award no. W91WAW-08-D-0013.
In addition to assisting select U.S. allies, the program will offer sustained back-up to OCOs undertaken by the Air Force Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, Air Force Flight Test Center and the Air National Guard.
Although the actual drone operations are slated for overseas military ventures, DRC primarily will carry out its support functions domestically. It will continue to test drone equipment and weaponry, for instance, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and facilities in California at Gray Butte, Poway and China Lake.
IThe Huffington Post reported recently that under President Obama’s direction, the U.S. drone program has killed an estimated 2,400 people.
The report said that in Pakistan alone, between 416 and 951 innocent civilians, including 168-200 children, have been killed by Obama’s drone program.
It said a strike by an American drone in Yemen only weeks ago reportedly killed 12 civilians.
But a year ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a supporter of drone raids, suggested to the London Telegraph that the drone program death toll actually was 4,700.
“Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida,” he said at the time.
The Army Contracting Command says it intends to re-open the contract to competitive bidding when the extension ends. At that time it will use fiscal year 2014-15 funds gleaned from FMS, U.S. Air Force aircraft procurement and related budgetary sources.
In light of the anticipated, growing threat of drones used against the U.S. – both domestically and abroad – the Department of Defense also separately is assessing the potential of U.S. industry to develop advanced and “affordable” anti-drone capabilities.
The creation of a Counter Unmanned Aerial System theoretically could be used on the continental U.S. as well as globally, according to a sources-sought notice issued by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC.
“The response shall focus on detection, deciding and defeating/engagement of the UAS threat,” AMRDEC said in a recently released Request for Information.
“Both kinetic and non-kinetic solutions are encouraged and should cover both CONUS and OCONUS applications.”
The Army unit is seeking concept papers from domestic sources only. The “white papers” must address threats from reconnaissance and armed UAVs that the U.S. may face “in the near and far future” from micro-sized to large drones operating at varying altitudes and speeds.
The government on April 30 will hold a secret classified-level meeting with interested participants who will gather at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. Invited responders on May 1 will present their ideas to government officials at that location.