DSCA Director's Blog

Here you will find thoughts and messages from the Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and his staff.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Singapore Air Show and UAVs

I recently returned to a snowy Washington D.C. after attending the Singapore Air Show. This was only the second time the government of Singapore had sponsored and managed the event. In classic Singapore style, all events came off like clockwork. The Singapore government should be very proud of how well the show played out.

For DSCA, these events are very efficient and effective. We packed 43 events into about four days. Besides the meetings with country and company representatives, I had the opportunity to attend several thought provoking briefings.

One in particular included the topic of operations of Unmanned Air Vehicles in controlled airspace, meaning concurrently flying manned and unmanned airplanes in proximity of each other. I thought the brief was exceptional. For decades we have struggled with the paradox that UAV’s present.

The presentation included a proposal on how to set the threshold of how big or small a UAV has to be, to fly in controlled airspace. Small and even medium UAV’s are becoming ubiquitous in both combat and non-combat environments…we need to move forward on how we deal with this operational risk.

For DSCA and our international partners, UAV’s are an ever increasing area of interest. We have exported systems ranging from hand held to full scale sized airplanes. So the problem is getting bigger, not smaller. I’m in search of other good ideas on ways to tackle the challenges these ubiquitous systems present…let me know if you have any.


  1. Dear Sir,

    I appreciate you openness on the subject of UAV's and I myself have been a big fan of UAV's and the usefullness they bring to the theatre of not only being able to provide sensitive ISR but also in the reduction of collateral damage.

    My questions arises from the prospective of exportability. As you know there have always been limitations in the exporability of such systems to Non-NATO allies.

    Going into the rest of 2010, do you believe that the US's willingness to export UAV's such as the Predator (or an export variant thereof) will increase?

  2. Thanks for the question. From where I sit, with only a few exceptions, it appears unlikely our government intends to increase the export of Predator in the near term. However, each case is reviewed carefully and evaluated on merit and the unique circumstances of the situation.

  3. Nice job with the punchline, assuming the readers have heard the joke Travis keeps telling.

  4. Unmanned vehicles. I think it is time to reassess this situation