The “prospect of peace” in Afghanistan “poses a serious danger” to the burgeoning drones industry, according to a recent anonymous comment piece in Flight International, believed to have been authored by an industry insider.
Noting that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been “the making of the unmanned aircraft industry”, the piece, entitled “Oh, What A Lovely War”, urges the industry to “persuade military decision makers to trust autonomous technology to make decisions at least on par with the quality of humans in similar situations” so as to reap “manpower savings”.
Decrying what is termed “the armistice day curse”, the author laments the fact that while the end of the First World War “brought peace to the world, albeit briefly” it also brought “ruin to a nascent aviation industry that never fully recovered until the run-up to the Second World War”. The fear is also expressed that civil airspace restrictions on drones due to public safety “will smother any chance of growth for [drones] if the comparative freedom of Afghanistan ceases to be available.”
The article was brought to PN’s attention by Chris Cole, who co-ordinates the Christian pacifist group Fig Tree (see end of article) and maintains the invaluable blog Drone Wars UK.
Behind the mask
Chris comments: “This anonymous comment piece lets the PR mask of the drone industry (indeed the arms industry) slip and shows what people behind the growth of Drone Wars are really thinking. “Firstly, that war is good for business, peace a curse.
“Secondly, despite the protestations of the politicians and senior military officials, the push towards greater autonomy for drones and armed robotic systems is real and being led by industry. “And finally, despite drones regularly going ‘rogue’ and crashing, the holy grail for the drone industry is to be allowed to fly drones in civil airspace alongside manned aircraft.”