Small surveillance drones are starting to be part of police departments across America, and the FAA will soon open up the airspace for more to come. This drone invasion has already raised all kinds of privacy concerns. And if you think that’s bad, across the ocean, Russia seems hell-bent on outdoing its former Cold War enemy.
Russia’s leading manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles, Zala Aero, has provided the Russian government with more than 70 unmanned systems, each containing several aircraft. According to an article published yesterday on Open Democracy Russia, the Kremlin’s romance with drones started in 2006, when the Interior Ministry deployed a Zala 421-04M to monitor street protests at a G8 summit in St. Petersburg. The Russian government has also bought drones from Israel.
Vladimir Putin himself is ready to jump on the drone bandwagon. “We need a program for unmanned aircraft. Experts say this is the most important area of development in aviation,” he said in early June. “We need a range of all types, including automated strike aircraft, reconnaissance and other types.” Indeed, Russia is going to allegedly spend around $13 billion on unmanned aerial vehicles through 2020.