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The Pentagon is planning 50 percent more drone flights by 2019

The Pentagon is planning 50 percent more drone flights by 2019

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Sgt Johnny Saldivar

After a brief lull, the military is doubling down on drones. A new report from The Wall Street Journal details the Pentagon's new plan to increase daily drone flights by half, raising serious questions about the future of military drone strikes. The Pentagon currently directs 61 daily drone flights, almost all of which are used for remote surveillance. The expansion would give the Pentagon even more reconnaissance data, expanding capacity in new programs from the Army and special contractors.

Only a vanishingly small percentage of the flights involve actual strikes, but they'll provide a crucial first step for strikes in new regions, which will require reconnaissance feeds for targeting and command support. Notably, many of the future reconnaissance efforts are intended to monitor operations in Ukraine and the South China Sea. Thus far, drone strikes have been largely confined to Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The new uptick in reconnaissance missions also won't affect the CIA's ongoing drone program, which has remained the most controversial, secretive, and deadly of the US's drone operations.

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