House Armed Services Committee members want the Pentagon to develop a strategic plan for the training of remotely piloted aircraft operators in the national airspace. “If [RPA] pilots and sensor operators are to maintain proficiency and mission readiness at their home stations, the Department of Defense will need to address the current constraints on training in the national airspace,” reads the report accompanying H.R. 4310, the House’s version of the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill. While forthcoming Federal Aviation Administration safety standards will enable the Pentagon to access the national airspace for routine training by 2016, DOD “needs to have a strategic plan in place to absorb [RPA] into bases, airspace, and training programs in the continental United States, as the inventory grows and some assets return from [Afghanistan],” states the report. The committee directed DOD to provide a report on this plan to the congressional defense and intelligence committees within 180 days of the defense authorization bill becoming law. The committee approved H.R. 4310 on May 10. (HASC report; caution, large-sized file.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.