Monday, October 24, 2011

America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases

October 24, 2011 by from

Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam could start controlling one of the military’s newest and most lethal weapons.The Air Force announced that the base is a candidate to operate Predator and Reaper Aircraft.


The aircraft would not be assigned to Hawaii, however, they would be controlled from here [...]

If Hickam is selected as a drone base, it would join an invisible empire of drone bases that have multiplied in recent years. Nick Turse has written an excellent expose on the vast network of U.S. drone bases:

Using military documents, press accounts and other open source information, an in-depth analysis by AlterNet has identified at least 60 bases integral to U.S. military and CIA drone operations. There may, however, be more, since a cloak of secrecy about drone warfare leaves the full size and scope of these bases distinctly in the shadows.

Here is “America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases: Its Full Extent Revealed for the First Time”.

Turse believes that the impending Pentagon budget cuts will mean an increase in the use of drones:

Drones are now the bedrock of Washington’s future military planning and — with counterinsurgency out of favor — the preferred way of carrying out wars abroad.

The global network of more than 1000 U.S. military bases will provide infrastructure for expanding the drone programs:

Earlier this year, an analysis by determined that there are more than 1,000 U.S. military bases scattered across the globe — a shadowy base-world that provides plenty of existing sites that can, and no doubt will, host drones. But facilities selected for a pre-drone world may not always prove optimal locations for America’s current and future undeclared wars and assassination campaigns. So further expansion in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia is likely.

What are the Air Force’s plans in this regard? Lieutenant Colonel John Haynes was typically circumspect. “We are constantly evaluating potential operating locations based on evolving mission needs,” he said. If the last decade is any indication, those “needs” will only continue to grow.


What is the rate of accidents? Civilian casualties? reports that a military cargo plane was struck by a drone in Afghanistan recently:

A military cargo plane from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station was damaged when an unmanned drone crashed into it during an Afghanistan mission last month, officials have confirmed.

The C-130 Hercules transport plane, assigned to the 914th Airlift Wing of the Air Force, had to make an emergency landing after it was struck by the drone on Aug. 15, authorities said.

The rapid rise of drones has opened up a can of ethical and legal issues that humanity has yet to reckoned with.