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September 7 2013

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7Sep2013

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Also on the Newswire blog at https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

Unmanned aircraft bought online being deployed to monitor private and public property in Australia

by Press • 1 September 2013

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/unmanned-aircraft-bought-online-being-deployed-to-monitor-private-and-public-property/story-fnihsrf2-1226707858451

 

RENEE VIELLARIS LEGAL AFFAIRS

THE COURIER-MAIL

 

UNMANNED aircraft used to spy on enemies in war zones are now being deployed to monitor private and public property and to perv on unsuspecting Queenslanders.

Unregistered and unlicensed drones costing as little as $800 on the internet are being used to beam back spy video of women on beaches and areas ordinarily hidden from prying eyes.

Legitimate operators want the authorities to ground the rogue drones but the privacy commissioner says there are no rules in his armoury to take them down.

Queensland’s acting Privacy Commissioner Lemm Ex, who told The Courier-Mail he expected more drones to be used in the state for legitimate crime detection, urban planning and search and rescue, said he could not stop private rogue operators.

“There is no privacy law in Australia that will deal with one neighbour using a drone to survey another,” Mr Ex said.

“There may be non-privacy laws which apply but it remains that the use of drones by individuals is not currently regulated by privacy law.

“And anybody with $1000 can deploy a surveillance system.”

Legitimate companies and agencies, such as police and mining and power companies, are also using the technology.

“Anecdotally there is strong consideration for the use of drones in Queensland for everything from surf lifesavers to patrol Queensland beaches to specific crime-fighting activities,” Mr Ex said.

“One of the reasons why drones could be an attractive option for agencies is that the technology is both now eminently affordable and relatively sophisticated.

“Where drones differ slightly from the now familiar fixed camera surveillance systems is their potential for short one-off surveillance and the fact that geography is no boundary.

“There is an easier capacity for drones to survey what has traditionally been considered as personal spaces such as private property.”

He said if government agencies used drones they would have to comply with the Information Privacy Act’s privacy principles.

 

One of Queensland’s 11 licensed drone operators has written to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority asking for intervention to stop the unregistered spy planes.

Eric de Saint Quentin of Aerial Pix said drones were being abused by unlicensed operators who were buying the aircraft from the internet.

“People are flying UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) … and are not qualified. Some are using them on women sunbaking at the beach,” he said.

He said his company was doing surveillance for mining companies and power companies in southeast Queensland but for operational reasons would not name the businesses. He said some surveillance was done in built-up areas.

He said the companies requested the drones for security reasons or for maintenance.

A live feed goes straight to the companies and the footage was not accessed by his business, he said.

A spokesman for CASA said action could be taken against unlicensed drone operators but evidence was needed.

CASA requires a drone operator to have a controller’s certification and certificate. Drone pilots require general aviation knowledge in line with a private pilot’s licence, and specific unmanned aircraft skills.

Drones cannot be used for recreational use.

 

Publications say ND leads race to land UAS site

SUASNews.com

by Press • 3 September 2013

http://www.prairiebizmag.com/event/article/id/15749/group/Economic%20Development/

By: Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service

 

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota appears to be one of the leading contenders in the race to land one of six national test sites to integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace.

An article, “How North Dakota plans to become the drone capital of America,” published this week on PopularScience.com, the online version of Popular Science magazine, lists the state as one of seven top contenders.

“North Dakota will probably get the bid, and it should,” wrote the author, Kelsey D. Atherton. “Testing drones in extreme winter conditions is important, and it’s best to do it where it’s very unlikely a mishap can actually hurt someone.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to name the six national test sites in December.

Atherton, a science writer and blogger, said he based his research on the same criteria listed by the FAA site selection committee: geographic diversity, climatic diversity, location of ground infrastructure and research needs, population density and air traffic density.

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which last week hosted a convention in Washington, D.C., estimates that integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace will result in “100,000 jobs created and economic impact of $82 billion” nationwide by 2025.

 

Competition

Other top contenders, according to Atherton, are: San Diego; Hancock Field, N.Y.; Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Huntsville, Ala.; Creech Air Force Base, Nev.; and Dayton, Ohio.

North Dakota, one of seven states that had booths at last week’s AUVSI convention, also was mentioned in stories by various media covering the event.

“(University of North Dakota) is one of the nation’s UAS academic hubs. It recently announced it developed sense-and-avoid software that will be tested aboard a NASA unmanned aircraft,” National Defense Magazine reported.

The Washington Post noted North Dakota, Oklahoma and Ohio in its article on the event, noting North Dakota’s claim to have the nation’s first four-year UAS degree, Oklahoma’s UAS engineering graduate program and Ohio’s Air Force research lab.

The newspaper quoted Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, who was one of the booth’s presenters, who said the state, “‘already is on the leading edge’ of evaluating drones for agriculture, search and rescue, and inspecting infrastructure like pipelines for oil, gas, water and power lines.”

 

Al Palmer, director of UND’s Center for UAS Research, Education and Training, listed other states are among the contenders, adding Alaska, Oklahoma and Florida to the seven listed in the Popular Science article.

Palmer is confident North Dakota will be one of the winners.

“We want to become the drone capital of America,” he said. “The state of North Dakota is very friendly to UAS operations. A lot of people think we are going to be designated, but you can’t rest on your laurels. We’re still working hard.”

 

Preparations

The state already is making plans to be ready when the announcement is made.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple in May appointed Col. Robert Becklund, former commander of the North Dakota National Guard’s 119th Fighter Wing, to lead the North Dakota test site project. Becklund recently served on a UAS task force at the Pentagon.

“We want to hit the ground running,” he said.

Becklund already is working on UAS projects in the state. He and Palmer spent time working this week on a collaborative UND-North Dakota State University UAS precision agricultural research project.

But Palmer said even if North Dakota ultimately is not one of the UAS national airspace integration test sites, the state will continue to be one of the nation’s industry leaders.

Atherton agrees.

“There are states less confident than North Dakota. I think it’s justified in the roughrider state (Do people say that there? I’m new at the North Dakota beat), but it also looks like North Dakota will develop unmanned aviation fine without selection,” he said in an email this week.

“FAA-approved drone use is happening in North Dakota right now,” he wrote, “and states with established programs like that clearly have a head start. States that get approval will benefit, but by no means is that the only way to develop a drone economy.”

 

 

Obama Issues Plan for 1 Percent Pay Raise Next Year

http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2013/08/obama-issues-plan-1-percent-pay-raise-next-year/69782/

By Tom Shoop

August 30, 2013

President Obama issued an alternative federal pay plan late Friday, setting an across-the-board increase for civilian federal employees of 1 percent in 2014.

The figure matches the amount the president requested in his fiscal 2014 budget proposal. Obama issued a separate plan providing 1 percent boost in monthly basic pay rates for military service members.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Obama wrote, “Civilian federal employees have already made significant sacrifices as a result of a three-year pay freeze. As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, however, we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course.”

Under Obama’s plan, locality pay levels would remain at their 2013 levels.

Obama declared that his pay proposal “will not materially affect the federal government’s ability to attract and retain a well-qualified federal workforce.”

The leader of the largest federal labor union praised the proposal, though without much enthusiasm.

“Although the 1 percent is a pitiful amount that doesn’t begin to compensate for the furloughs and three years of frozen pay, it is a welcome development,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.”

“To call this raise inadequate is an understatement, but it is good news all the same,” he added.

If the president had not informed Congress of his alternative pay plan for feds by the end of August, then the increase mandated by the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act would have kicked in. Under FEPCA, the raise would be determined by the change in the Employment Cost Index minus 0.5 percent. For 2014, that equals 1.3 percent.

Presidents largely have ignored the FEPCA formula in their federal pay raise proposals, preferring to offer their own figure. Congress created FEPCA, which provides an annual across-the-board salary boost and a locality pay adjustment for General Schedule employees, to close the public and private sector pay gap. The latest Federal Salary Council report concluded that federal employees are underpaid relative to private sector workers by approximately 34.6 percent.

The reality, however, is that Congress will end up determining whether federal employees receive a pay raise next year.

So far, lawmakers have not shown much enthusiasm for ending the three-year freeze on federal employees, despite Obama’s repeated calls to do so. None of the House fiscal 2014 spending bills to date contain funds for a civilian pay raise. The House has passed four of the 12 spending bills for fiscal 2014: Defense; Energy and Water Development; Homeland Security; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. The Homeland Security and Military Construction-VA bills did not endorse a civilian pay raise, but didn’t forbid it either.

 

GSA Unfreezes Federal Per Diems

http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2013/08/gsa-unfreezes-federal-diems/69770/

 

By Eric Katz

August 30, 2013

Federal employees will receive a small increase in their per diems starting in October, the General Services Administration announced Friday.

Federal agencies will reimburse their employees traveling in “standard” areas of the continental United States up to $129 per day for expenses — $83 for lodging and $46 for meals and incidentals — in fiscal 2014. The lodging per diem increased from $77 in fiscal 2013, while the meals portion held steady. GSA did not increase the federal per diem last year.

GSA’s per diem is about 5 percent lower than the average daily rate of the market, the agency said. While the rate applies to about 2,600 counties, 400 additional “non-standard areas” — or NSAs — receive individual calculations. Feds traveling in cities with high costs of living, such as New York City, receive inflated reimbursements, for example.

Some of the NSAs, such as Washington, D.C., will actually see a reduction in their per diem rates, while others will receive an increase.

GSA also announced the elimination of the Conference Lodging Allowance, which let federal travelers spend 25 percent more than per diem rates for conferences. The move will save the government $10 million in fiscal 2014, GSA said.

 

The agency also recently announced new airfare rates for federal employees through its City Pair Program, estimating they will save $2.2 billion annually. The Obama administration has targeted federal travel as a means to cut spending, directing agencies to reduce travel costs by 30 percent.

The directive has led to $2 billion in savings across government, GSA said. Still, the agency made clear federal employees must occasionally travel to accomplish their core missions.

“For many public servants, travel is a necessary part of their jobs,” GSA wrote in a blog post announcing the new per diem rates. “As each agency reviews its travel and conference-related activities, each agency must ensure that any spending serves the American people as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

 

 

Air Force Developed Bombs Capable of Destroying Syria’s Chemical Weapons

http://defensetech.org/2013/08/30/air-force-developed-bombs-capable-of-destroying-syrias-chemical-weapons/#ixzz2dq9XzYwv

 

by KRIS OSBORN on AUGUST 30, 2013

 

B-2The U.S. Air Force has spent years developing so-called “Agent Defeat Weapons” designed to target and destroy stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons without dispersing or releasing them to surrounding areas, service officials said.

“The U.S. Air Force has Agent Defeat Weapons designed to limit collateral damage and effects,” Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy told Military​.com. “The munitions are PAW (Passive Attack Weapon) and Crash Pad.”

Both of these weapons would be carried by aircraft such as the F-15 or F-22 fighter jets and B-2 or B-1 bombers. It’s likely the Air Force would deploy the weapons from a B-2 or F-22 to take advantage of their radar-evading stealth technology considering the advanced air defense systems in Syria.

Could these weapons be used if a strike on Syria is ordered? Air Force officials would not comment upon whether the Agent Defeat Weapons were part of the discussion or strategic calculus regarding Syria.

An official with the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, did not offer any specifics regarding planning details or ongoing considerations – but did tell Military​.com that planning sessions, meetings and considerations were currently underway.

“The Joint Staff continues to meet and plan in order to provide the best possible military advice and options to the President. It would be inappropriate to speculate on what decision the President might make and what military options might be used in support of that decision. The U.S. military remains postured to provide a range of military capabilities as directed by the President,” said Cmdr. Scott McIlnay, spokesman with Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon.

The CrashPad, or BLU-119/B weapon is a high-heat explosive bomb designed to incinerate chemical agents before they can be harmful, according to defense officials and DoD documents.

The weapon is a 420-pound, high-heat incendiary weapon with what’s called a “blast-fragmentation” warhead. The Crash Pad is built from an existing standard MK 84 bomb body. The “PAD” in CrashPad stands for “Prompt Agent Defeat,” referring to the weapon’s ability to destroy chemical and biological agents without causing contamination, official documents describe.

The Passive Attack Weapon, or PAW, involves firing a host of steel and tungsten penetrator rods to create a “kinetic energy” battlefield effect without using an explosive. The weapon, first used to knock out antennas in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, is among the weapons used to advance what strategists call “effects based warfare.”

The idea with effects-based warfare is to achieve a strategically valuable battlefield “effect” without necessarily having to damage or attack large portions of the infrastructure of the attacked country or area. The PAW penetrator rods, which range from several inches to more than one-foot, can disable an enemy fuel tank, antenna or helicopter without necessarily damaging people.

One analyst said if the PAW were to be fired from a high enough altitude and was able to travel with enough terminal velocity – it could destroy chemical weapons stockpiles without releasing contaminants.

“When you hit something at high velocity, what you get is a flash of incredible heat in a confined area extremely fast. That can vaporize everything in small area,” said Daniel Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based think tank.

Goure likened the effect to the impact of so-called “Sabo” Kinetic Energy 120mm tank rounds fired by the U.S. Army’s M1Abrams tank.

“A Sabo round is essentially the same thing, a combination of spalling and heat effects. The round melts its way into the tank,” he said.

Being able to generate enough heat sufficient to incinerate or neutralize the harmful agents is an essential ingredient to the success of Agent Defeat Weapons, according to military officials and scientists.

“Most agent defeat options—including nuclear weapons and high-explosives—neutralize chemical or biological agents by raising the target’s temperature. Thus, to assess any weapon’s effectiveness, we must first determine the threshold temperature for rapid agent neutralization,” Brookings Institution Scientist Michael A. Levi said in written testimony to the National Academy of Sciences, 2004.

 

Wearable Electronics Market Worth $8.36B By 2018

http://www.rfglobalnet.com/doc/wearable-electronics-market-worth-b-by-0001?sectionCode=News&templateCode=EnhancedStandard&user=2753709&source=nl:38066

 

According to a new market research report “Wearable Electronics Market and Technology Analysis (2013 – 2018): By Components (Sensors, Battery, Display, Networking); Applications (Consumer, Healthcare, Enterprise); Products (Smart -Textiles, Glasses, Watches); e-Materials and Geography”, the global wearable electronics market revenue is expected to cross $8B, and the total unit shipment is expected to cross 130 million units globally, by 2018.

Wearable Electronics, often also referred as wearable computing or wearable technology, is the most buzzing next-generation aspect in the consumer electronic and computing technology industry in the current scenario. It is expected to be the next big thing in the field of computing, with a new generation of electronic gadgets creating a wave similar to that created by the global smartphone revolution. As such, it comes as no surprise that increasing number of technology giants are betting high on wearable products and devices.

The field of wearable technology includes several products such as smart glasses/goggles, ring/finger worn scanners, foot-wear such as athletic, fitness & sports shoes, wrist-wear such as advanced electronic watches and wrist-bands, and others (such as head-bands and neck-wear) along with the upcoming “smart textiles” and the yet to commercialize (expected in 2016) “e-textiles”.

The global wearable electronics market was worth more than $2.5B in revenue in 2012 and is expected to cross $8B in 2018, growing at a healthy CAGR of 17.7% from 2013 to 2018. In terms of products, wrist-wear accounted for the largest market revenue in 2012, with total revenue of the most established wearable electronic products – wrist-watches and wrist-bands combined, crossing $850M.

Among application sectors, consumer applications accounted for the largest market share, with revenue crossing $2B, as of 2012. However, that of enterprise and industrial applications is expected to grow at the highest CAGR (more than 21%), during the forecast period of 2013 to 2018.

The global wearable technology ecosystem’s value was estimated to more than $4B as of 2012, and is expected to reach cross $14B by 2018, growing at a CAGR more than 18% from 2013 to 2018. The total addressable market (TAM) for wearable technology is estimated to be more than $14B, as of 2012, and the current level of penetration for wearable technology was estimated to be roughly 18%. This market penetration rate of wearable technology is expected to accelerate (increasing rate of penetration every year) over the next five years, reaching roughly 46% penetration level in the TAM, by 2018.

The global wearable electronic textiles market is expected to grow faster than that of the overall wearable electronics market, with increasing demand and growing consumer adoption for wearable electronic smart-textiles, along with expected commercialization of more advanced – wearable electronic e-textiles by 2016.

The market of electrical and electronic components for wearable electronic products is also expanding rapidly, as the market value of components amounts to roughly 66% of that of products. With dynamically changing landscape for components in wearable electronics, the global wearable electronic components market is expected to cross $6B by 2018, offering huge revenue potential for key electronic component manufacturers focusing on this field.

The research report, based on an extensive research study on the wearable electronics market, and its entire ecosystem, describes the market trends, drivers, restraints and opportunities of the wearable electronics market and forecasts the market and all its sub-segments to 2018, in terms of both – revenue and shipments. The overall market statistics are segmented on basis of technology, components, form-factor, products application, industry verticals and geography.

This global report gives a bird’s eye-view of the market across geographies – North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and ROW (Rest of the World). North America is the largest geography in terms of wearable electronics unit shipments and market revenue. APAC has been identified as the fastest growing region, with China leading the way. Europe and ROW are also promising markets, with Germany and the U.K. in Europe, and the Middle-East and Latin America in ROW providing impetus to the growth.

The report profiles 23 promising players in the wearable technology market ecosystem and also includes market share analysis (with estimated market shares and rankings) for each of the product categories in this market. The detailed competitive landscape of the market included presents a very interesting picture, where large number of small players has become a force to reckon with. The market is witnessing a series of new product launch and announcement and partnership across the value chain. Some big announcements by small and big players alike are expected in the coming months.

Some of the key players in the wearable electronics market include Adidas AG (Germany), Fitbit, Inc. (U.S.), Fibretronic Ltd. (U.K.), Google, Inc. (U.S.), Jawbone, Inc. (U.S.), Nike, Inc. (U.S.), Olympus Corporation (U.S.), Recon Instruments, Inc. (Canada), Vuzix Corporation (U.S.), and Weartech s.l (Spain) among others.

 

 

UAVs And Electronic Payloads: Navigating Turbulent Times, Bright Skies Ahead

http://www.rfglobalnet.com/doc/uavs-and-electronic-payloads-navigating-turbulent-times-bright-skies-ahead-0001

August 31, 2012

As seen in Electronic Military & Defense magazine.

By Paul Kruczkowski, Editor

 

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market is alive and well, despite worldwide economic worries and concerns about deep U.S. defense budget cuts. Although the tremendous growth the industry has experienced in recent years may slow temporarily, analysts still predict great things for UAVs over the next decade and see the sector as one of the best opportunities for electronic design and manufacturing in the defense industry.

 

In this article, we will first discuss the overall prospects for the UAV market. We will then explore some of the important UAV electronic payload categories, the projections for the payload market, and a recent design trend that has the potential to transform the UAV electronic payload industry. Next, we will take a look at the major UAV programs — and the electronic payloads they carry — that are shaping this rapidly evolving market. Finally, we will take a glimpse at several emerging UAV programs that may drive the electronic payload market going forward.

 

The UAV Market

Market analysts remain bullish on the potential of the UAV market. For instance, the Teal Group projects worldwide UAV spending to nearly double over the next decade, from $6.6 billion in 2012 to $11.4 billion in 2021, totaling just over $89 billion in the next 10 years. It is abundantly clear that intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) is the cornerstone of the global war on terror, and that the UAV has proven itself to be very adept at ISR. Military and civilian authorities around the world have observed the capabilities and versatility of the UAV and will continue to expand their use of unmanned vehicles.

The Teal Group also predicts the U.S. will account for approximately 62% of the worldwide RDT&E (research, development, test, and evaluation) for UAVs and 55% of the procurement of these systems. The Asia-Pacific region will be the second largest market, followed by Europe as a close third. The U.S. defense budget still has $3.8 billion earmarked for UAV spending in FY2013, even with a 12.2% reduction in overall aircraft funding.

 

Electronic Payloads

Today’s UAVs carry a wide range of electronic payloads on ISR missions. Sometimes these payloads are mounted within the vehicle, but in other cases multiple sensors are combined into payload suites that can be mounted within stabilized multi-axis gimbal systems to provide wide angles of coverage. Major categories of UAV electronic payloads include:

Electro-optic (EO) cameras provide near real-time high-definition video surveillance in the visible light spectrum.

Infrared (IR) sensors operate in a wide range of frequencies, from long-wave (LWIR) to short¬wave (SWIR), and are used for thermal imaging of people and vehicles, providing photograph-like images of objects in the field of view, and detecting targets by their chemical signature in addition to their visual appearance.

Lasers provide luminance for night vision and designators for munitions targeting.

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) utilizes a single antenna and time-multiplexing of radar returns to create accurate radar imaging to target area.

Signal intelligence (SIGINT) sensor payloads detect, locate, and classify RF transmissions, allowing forces to monitor or interrupt enemy communications

Electronic support measures (ESM) are electronic warefare (EW) payloads that detect, locate, and classify radar emitters, providing early warning so that radar sources can be disabled.

Command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems aboard UAVs or in ground control units allow collected video, data, or targeting information to be coordinated and disseminated throughout the ISR network.

The market for UAV payloads was worth $2.7 billion in FY2012 and is forecasted to increase to $6 billion in FY2021 by the Teal Group. While the overall UAV electronic payload market is projected to have steady growth over the next decade, the SIGINT / EW payload market is expected to see a massive 20.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from FY2012 to FY2017. UAV system upgrades involving smaller, lighter, and higher-performance payloads, as well as the stocking of extra payloads for field changes and repairs, should allow growth of the payload market to outpace the vehicle market.

 

Another trend that could have a major impact on the growth of the UAV payload market is open architecture design. An emerging design philosophy in the defense industry, open architecture recently demonstrated its applicability to UAV programs. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), manufacturer of MQ-9 Reaper, collaborated with SELEX Galileo and Cobham Aviation Services to integrate SELEX Galileo’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and other sensors onto an MQ-9 Reaper — the first step in proving the concept of the new platform and sensor-agnostic skyISTAR mission management system, allowing customers the flexibility to integrate future payload capabilities into the system. If this open payload architecture approach develops into a widespread UAV design trend, it would further enhance the opportunities for payload manufacturers not specified into the initial UAV designs.

 

Major UAV Systems And Their Electronic Payloads

The UAV systems operated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) are diverse in configuration and mission. High-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAVs like the RQ-4 Global Hawk are at the top of line in terms of size and cost (at approximately $220 million each) and were designed to replace the high-altitude U-2 Dragon spy plane, which has been in service since 1955. Medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs like the MQ-9 Reaper fly lower and slower than the HALE UAVs but also carry payloads with precision hunt and kill capabilities. These two classes of UAVs will receive the majority of DoD spending on unmanned aerial systems. However, small tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (STUAVs) — used by ground troops to gain advantage in battlefield awareness — are less expensive platforms purchased in much larger quantities, and so provide another substantial market opportunity for payload manufacturers.

 

HALE UAVs: Global Hawk

Hawk hit some turbulence when the FY2013 budget canceled the Block 30 program and provided no funds to operate the 18 UAVs in service, which would effectively eliminate the U-2’s planned replacement in 2015. The House Armed Services Committee tried to preserve this ISR capability by designating $260 million of its markup in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2013; however, their counterparts in the Senate disagreed, so the future of the program is in question.

 

Good news for the Global Hawk platform came in the form of a $1.7 billion contract for five Block 40 Global Hawks for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft program and $657.5 million in the FY2013 budget for the U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstration (BAMS-D) program, which consists of five Global Hawks that the U.S. Navy acquired from the U.S. Air Force as a test platform for the development of the MQ-4C UAV. Initial operational capability (IOC) for the NATO AGS is projected for 2014, and the first MQ-4C BAMS was scheduled for June 2012 delivery with IOC expected in 2015.

 

In terms of payload, RQ-4 Block 40 incorporates the BAN/ZPY-2 MP-RTIP (Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program), which uses AESA technology to deliver long-range, very high-resolution SAR images, ground moving target indicator (GMTI), and new air target tracking capabilities. The RQ-4 will communicate through wideband Ku SATCOM and line-of-sight connectivity. A future battle management and control (BMC2) system will direct weapons to attack stationary and moving targets using the Global Hawk’s radar cues from its SAR and GMTI radars.

 

The MQ-4C BAMS UAV sensor payload provides ISR and tactical information over a mission radius of 2,000 nautical miles (nm) and will leverage several advanced technologies to accomplish this mission. The Multifunction Active Sensor Active Electronically Scanned Array (MFAS AESA) radar provides long-range detection and identification of targets. The MQ-4C will also have the Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS¬B), which integrates an EO camera, IR sensors, a laser illuminator, and a laser range finder/designator to provide auto-target tracking and high-resolution, full-motion video. In addition, the BAMS will have AN/ ZLQ-1 electronic support measures (EMSs), giving it the capability for specific emitter identification (SEI), and an automatic identification system (AIS) that provides maritime vessel movement information from VHF broadcasts. Finally, the MQ-4C is specified to have radar capabilities for maintaining safe separation from other airborne assets.

 

MALE UAVs: Predator/Reaper/Grey Eagle

The MQ-9 Reaper MALE UAV continues to build on the reputation of its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator, and is the clear choice of the U.S. Air Force for long-endurance UAVs with strike capability. The Air Force spent most of the money earmarked for UAV spending in FY2012 to procure 48 MQ-9 Reapers, and although the quantity of Reapers is reduced to 24 for FY2013, the budget still has $885.4 million for the procurement of the MQ-9. The FY2013 budget also provides $749.6 million to continue deployment of the U.S. Army MQ -1C Grey Eagle, a variant in the predator family. The strategic goal is to procure enough UAVs and ground stations to support 65 combat action patrols (CAPs) by FY2017.

 

In addition to its SIGINT payload, data links, and beyond-line-of-sight communications equipment, the Reaper boasts the Raytheon AN/DAS-1 MTS-B Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which integrates an EO camera and IR sensors, a laser illuminator, and a laser range finder/designator. MTS-B is capable of full-motion video, day or night, and provides the tracking and targeting required for precision laser-guided munitions.

 

The Reaper also carries the AN/APY-8 Lynx II radar, an all-weather SAR with GMTI technology. The Ku-band radar has a “search” mode with a range of 47 nm with a resolution of 10 feet, a “stripmap” mode that covers 29 nm with 1-foot resolution, and a “spotlight” mode that produces photograph-like radar images that cover 21 nm with a resolution of 4 inches.

 

MQ-1C Grey Eagle has communication relay payloads and EO/IR video sensors. It also uses an AN/ZPY-1 STARLite small tactical SAR that has GMTI and dismount moving target indicator (DMTI) functionality to provide all-weather, wide-area surveillance and detection of stationary, dismounted, and moving targets.

 

STUAVs

This class of UAVs is on the other end of the spectrum from the Global Hawk and Reaper. STUAVs are small enough for a soldier to carry in a backpack along with a handheld control unit. They typically sacrifice endurance, payload capacity, altitude, range, and strike capability in favor of light weight, portability, quick deployment, and real-time ISR and targeting information. These UAVs essentially become an extension of the soldier, hand-launched to provide a bird’s eye view of the battlefield and tactical ISR support of combat battalion and below operations.

 

There are several STUAV manufacturers, but one company in particular — AeroVironment — has been very successful at getting qualified by the various branches of the U.S. armed forces. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps has adopted four different AeroVironment UAV systems. The company also has received a $2.5 million order from the U.S. Air Force for its Wasp AE, and orders totaling $28.3 million from the Army, Marines, and Air Force for its new RQ-20A Puma AE. The DOD FY2013 budget also has $25.8 million designated for the procurement of 234 AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven systems. The Raven, Wasp AE, and Puma AE are interoperable, using the same ground control system (GCS). Additional details on these STUAVs and their payloads are as follows:

 

 

X-47B, the demonstration version of the U.S. Navy MQ-47B

 

The 4.2-lb. RQ-11 Raven has forward- and side-looking EO/IR cameras for day and night video capture. The Raven is remotely operated or can be programed for autonomous flight.

The Wasp AE weighs only 2.8 lbs. and is capable of encrypted communication beyond line-of-sight and can provide video, voice, data, and text relay. It carries the Mantis i22 AE gimbaled payload, which only weighs 9.7 ounces, delivers front- and side-looking color and IR video. It was designed for land and water landing, so it can operate in harsh environments.

An RQ -20A Puma AE system consists of three UAVs and two GCS. The vehicles weigh 13 lbs. each and are battery powered with 2-hour endurance. The UAV has a stabilized gimbal, is equipped with an EO/IR video camera and IR illu¬minator, and is capable of tilt and pan of plus or minus 180 degrees, giving it 360-degree coverage. It is designed for enhanced survivability for both maritime and land environments and operates in foul weather conditions and over rough terrain.

Looking To The Future

The U.S. Navy is working diligently to get the MQ-47B into service as soon as possible, its 2,500-km range provides a greater standoff distance between the target and the aircraft carrier from which it was launched, and it eliminates the issue of pilot endurance. It can carry 4,500 lbs. of smart bombs, and its projected cost is about half that of a new $100 million (manned) F-35 Lightning II JSF. Its first carrier launch and recovery is scheduled for 2013, followed by autonomous aerial refueling demonstration in 2014, with the goal of bringing the platform into service by 2018. It is likely to carry EO/IR sensor payloads, SAR and ISAR radar with GMTI and MMTI, as well as electronic support measures (ESMs).

 

There are other emerging UAV programs that could provide great opportunities for the electronic payload market, including:

MQ-8C Fire Scout: Northrop Grumman received a $263 million contract for eight new MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, based on the Bell 407 airframe. This new UAV is twice the size of the current MQ-8B, which will allow it to carry 1,000 lbs. of payload (weapons and sensors) — five times the capacity of the current Fire Scout.

Solar Eagle: The Solar Eagle is a HALE UAV being built by Boeing Defense, Space & Security under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program. This solar-powered UAV will be able to carry 1,000 lbs. of ISR payload at 60,000 feet for five years without replenishing.

ScanEagle: The ScanEagle UAV has been tested with a hydrogen fuel cell, which would reduce the UAV’s power plant weight, allowing for greater IRS payloads.

Argus One: This lighter than air (LTA) UAV has a flexible, non-rigid body that can be easily stored, transported, and deployed. It is designed to carry about 30 lbs. of sensors for ISR and communications, permitting GPS-guided autonomous flight.

 

Conclusion

In this article, we have reviewed only a portion of the current and future UAV systems that will provide opportunities to the electronic payload market, both domestically and abroad. The growing need for ISR capabilities will only increase the market opportunities for UAV systems and electronic payloads, despite shrinking defense budgets and austerity measures worldwide. In today’s budget-conscious world, better-equipped soldiers provide a sensible path to reducing the size of the military without decreasing its effectiveness, and UAVs and their payloads will play a significant role in achieving this goal. (Although it was not the focus of this article, there is also a growing law enforcement and civilian market for UAVs that will provide additional opportunities and support industry growth in the next decade.)

 

The design trends for future UAV systems will focus on increasing range, endurance, complexity, and autonomy. Some of these will be achieved through the capabilities of the vehicles themselves, but likely more will be accomplished through more sophisticated payloads, such as wide-angle EO/IR sensors and advanced radar systems that can penetrate foliage. The STUAV payloads market will continue to focus on size, weight, and power (SWaP) and will look to add large UAV capabilities including SIGINT, SAR, and hunt and strike capabilities. Technical issues like sensor drift will present challenges as complex non-EO sensors are developed for increasingly smaller UAVs. The electronic payload industry will have ample opportunity to innovate and further improve the performance of UAV systems. As creative ways are developed to expand the roles of these platforms, the blue skies ahead should become increasingly crowded with UAVs.

 

 

Double Furlough Trouble for Feds

http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/pay-benefits-watch/2013/09/double-furlough-trouble-feds/69934/

GovExec

By Kellie Lunney

Sep 5 2013 12:00 AM ET

Labor Day marks the traditional, if not official, end of summer. It also means a new fiscal year is less than a month away, and so is the threat of more furloughs for federal employees.

 

Congress for the last few years has lurched from one government funding deadline to another, and the federal workforce has lived under the shutdown shadow since 2011. Then in March 2013, automatic, across-the-board budget cuts took effect, forcing some agencies to place employees on unpaid leave.

This fall the circumstances are a little different because feds are facing the possibility of two types of furloughs simultaneously starting Oct. 1: furloughs related to sequestration, and those caused by a government shutdown because Congress has yet to pass any appropriations bills or a continuing resolution. And then there’s the mid-October deadline for raising the debt ceiling, which is a whole other story.

Yep, summer’s over alright. Don’t make any Columbus Day plans.

It’s not likely that the government will shutter in the next few weeks. Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers are dead set against it, and lawmakers have to vote right after recess on whether the military should intervene in Syria. On the one hand, they have a lot to do in the nine legislative days between their return and the start of fiscal 2014, creating an anxiety-ridden situation for feds. On the other, shutting down the government and authorizing military strikes on a foreign government at the same time seems particularly unwise, even for this Congress.

 

Having said that, it’s worth looking at the differences between shutdown, or emergency furloughs due to a lapse in appropriations, and the administrative furloughs many feds already are familiar with through sequestration. The bottom line is, your pay is at risk but your benefits are well protected under both scenarios. For simplicity’s sake, this column will refer to administrative furloughs as sequestration furloughs.

 

Pay

Sequestration Furlough: This is a little tricky. Federal pay under a statutory pay system — the General Schedule, for example — is subject to spending cuts as are other administrative expenses within budgets. But the rates of pay for individual civilian and military employees cannot be reduced under sequestration. In other words, if an agency has to find more savings within its administrative accounts, which include employees’ salaries, then it can resort to furloughs or layoffs. A furloughed employee isn’t paid and isn’t guaranteed back pay. But the agency can’t indiscriminately slash an employee’s rate of pay to save money. So if you aren’t furloughed, your pay is protected, but if you are furloughed, all bets are off. Layoffs are more expensive for agencies, so the odds are furloughs will be much more popular than reductions-in-force in the event of continued sequestration, though the Defense Department has said it likely will need to resort to RIFs for civilians in fiscal 2014 in that case. And don’t forget, a furlough of more than 30 calendar days, or of more than 22 discontinuous work days, is considered a RIF, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

 

The Obama administration has announced that it plans to exempt military pay from sequestration in fiscal 2014, as it did in fiscal 2013.

 

Shutdown Furlough: Employees furloughed during a government shutdown are not paid during their leave, but can be paid retroactively. Congress agreed to pay back employees affected by the partial government shutdown (Federal Aviation Administration) in 2011, as well as the full government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996. Lawmakers might not be inclined to reimburse employees for the time lost during the current fiscal climate if the government is forced to close on Oct. 1.

 

Lawmakers still are on the federal payroll during a shutdown; other employees not subject to furlough include the president, presidential appointees, certain legislative branch staff and “essential” or “excepted” federal workers. Most essential employees perform jobs in defense, health care or other areas of national security and/or emergency-related fields, and while they are paid, their paychecks could be delayed during a hiatus.

 

Performance awards and within-grade step increases for federal employees can be delayed under both sequestration and shutdown furloughs.

 

Health Benefits

Sequestration Furlough: The health care coverage of furloughed federal employees will continue if the employee earns enough to pay the premiums. If the worker’s salary can’t cover the cost of the premiums, and the agency has applied all other deductions in order of precedence, then the agency has to give the employee the choice to continue or end coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

 

Shutdown Furlough: The employee’s health coverage continues even if the agency doesn’t pay for its share of the premiums on time. “Since the employee will be in a non-pay status, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status,” stated 2011 guidance from OPM.

 

Leave

Sequestration Furlough: Employees cannot substitute paid leave or other forms of paid time off for unpaid leave during an administrative furlough.

 

Employees can take leave without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act when other employees are on administrative furlough. But if an employee is placed on furlough during the time she was supposed to be on FMLA leave without pay, those hours or days will not be considered LWOP under FMLA. “Furlough hours will not count toward the employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement,” stated June 2013 OPM guidance.

 

Shutdown Furlough: Employees cannot take paid leave or other forms of paid time off, even if it is previously scheduled, instead of going on unpaid leave during a shutdown-related furlough. As for FMLA, “no days associated with a shutdown furlough period will be counted against an employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement,” according to OPM guidance.

 

Retirement Benefits

Sequestration Furlough: Annuity benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System generally are not affected under administrative furloughs.

 

Shutdown Furlough: Feds’ retirement benefits are protected under this scenario as well.

 

The policies related to Thrift Savings Plan contributions are more nuanced, so check out the TSP Board’s guidance on nonpay status and TSP accounts here and specific guidance related to the fiscal 2013 sequester here.

 

Please remember that this is not an exhaustive list, just the highlights. Click on the links for OPM guidance on administrative furloughs and shutdown furloughs for more detailed information.

 

http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/pay-benefits-watch/2013/09/double-furlough-trouble-feds/69934/

 

Pentagon to Ask Congress for Spending Flexibility in 2014

Sep. 4, 2013 – 08:55PM | By MARCUS WEISGERBER |

Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will ask the US Congress for funding flexibility in a government-wide spending measure that is expected to be enacted at the end of September in lieu of a dedicated defense appropriation, a senior DoD official said Wednesday.

Congress is not expected to pass a defense budget by the conclusion of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Instead — as has become the custom — lawmakers are expected to enact a temporary continuing resolution (CR), which would fund the entire government at spending levels comparable to 2013. Starting new programs and changing program investment levels are typically prohibited under this type of spending measure.

“We don’t know what the CR will say. We hope we’ll have more flexibility under a CR than we would normally have because we need it,” Frank Kendall, DoD undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said during a speech Wednesday at the IDEEA-sponsored COMDEF conference in Washington.

“We’re going to have to make some adjustments,” Kendall said. “Part of the reason is … to move some money around. We need much more flexibility than we had in ’13. So, we’ll ask for that. I don’t know if we’ll get it.”

Kendall said he is already cutting back on “some commitments of resources because of the uncertainty I’m facing.”

The Pentagon had to cut $37 billion from across its $614 billion 2013 budget due to sequestration spending caps. Those cuts were required across all spending accounts, except military pay. DoD’s 2014 budget proposal is $52 billion above the sequestration spending cap.

“We don’t know where we’re going to end up in ’14; we don’t know where we’re going to end up long term,” Kendall said. “It’s not about getting rid of fat or getting rid of things we don’t really need. It’s about cutting the things we need the least of all the things that we do need.”

 

To meet 2013 spending caps, the Pentagon furloughed most civilian employees six days, cut back on training and delayed deployments. Kendall said Wednesday that future furloughs might be necessary if the 2014 spending cap is not removed.

While Kendall said he is “hopeful that we will not have to furlough next year,” he said he “can’t guarantee at this point that it won’t happen.”

“We will probably have to reduce the civilian work force,” Kendall said. “Whether that happens under a RIF [reduction in force] of under attrition or if we just don’t hire people as much as we’d like to, or at all virtually, I don’t know yet.

“At least, not hiring people, possibly a RIF and it gets bad enough — unfortunately — possibly furloughs again,” he said. “We really don’t want to do furloughs.”

Kendall said he expects sequestration to have an even greater impact on DoD in 2014 than it has this year.

“Right now we are essentially finding ways to get by [and] a lot of that is by deferring work,” he said.

“I think the damage will be much more visible as we go into ’14,” he added.

 

Extension Needed

The Pentagon will also ask Congress for the OK to continue an initiative to design exportability into new weapon systems, Kendall said.

“I think it’s so much in everybody’s interest to do this,” Kendall said. “[H]opefully we’ll be able to persuade that Congress to do that for us.”

Congress gave DoD approval to conduct a pilot program, which is called the Defense Exportability Features Initiative. The program is authorized through 2015.

The pilot looks at several programs, including the Air Force Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) and Navy Next-Generation Jammer.

This initiative is part of a hefty overhaul of DoD weapon buying guidance — dubbed “Better Buying Power 2.0” — which is designed to improve efficiency and give the military more bang for its buck.

The exportability program — which is conducted in partnership with industry — will produce cheaper products, faster, Kendall said. The initiative will also create more interoperability between the US and partner militaries, he said.

 

Ohio touted as open for UAS business

Dayton-Springfield leaders work to attract test site, related jobs.

Dayton Daily News

Posted: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013

By Andrew McGinn

Staff Writer

XENIA — Regional economic leaders on Wednesday stressed that little will change if Ohio is passed over later this year when the Federal Aviation Administration picks the six sites where testing of unmanned aerial systems will be done.

“The test center we’re building in Ohio will be there operating regardless of what happens with the FAA,” said Maurice McDonald, executive vice president of aerospace and defense for the Dayton Development Coalition.

McDonald was among the speakers assembled at the Greene County Career Center by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, to provide an update on efforts to lure the UAS industry to the region and to answer questions for representatives of business, government and academia.

That test center — the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex — opened on July 22 in Springfield’s Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park and gained its first director last month when retired Air Force Reserve Col. Dick Honneywell was appointed by Gov. John Kasich.

The center hopes to win Ohio and Indiana a joint FAA test site designation this year, but it also will serve as the state’s hub for economic development in the nascent drone sector and will manage designated airspace in the region.

As Turner said, the FAA-designated test sites are to prove a concept — that unmanned aircraft can safely share the skies with manned aircraft. The explosion in business, he said, will occur after the two-year test period.

He compared it to the advent of the automobile industry.

For some already in the business, Ohio can’t move fast enough to open its skies to commercial UAS.

“We’re ready to test now,” Robbie Robinson, vice president of business development for Textron Systems, told the panelists.

Textron is the maker of the Army and Marines’ RQ-7B Shadow UAS and has been paying to use government airspace in Arizona that’s “hit and miss to get in” to test its unmanned aircraft, which are manufactured in Maryland.

“I would love to be able to help Ohio and the region out if we had this infrastructure,” Robinson said. “If the price was competitive, we’re prepared to come here.”

Honneywell, who most recently was vice president of aerospace at the Dayton Development Coalition, assured Robinson that Ohio’s pricing will be “very competitive” when flying begins in May 2014.

For his part, Turner championed the work of Congress, which, despite the political gridlock, has aggressively pushed for the UAS industry.

It took an act of Congress, he said, for the FAA to move toward integrating commercial and civil UAS into national airspace.

Earlier, he said, the Pentagon had been “adamantly against” the arming of drones — like the MQ-1 Predator, which is remotely operated from the Springfield Air National Guard Base — until congressional pressure ultimately changed the way wars are fought.

“Innovation has brought us to this point,” Turner said.

Others came to Wednesday’s panel discussion to explore how they can get in on the ground floor of the predicted boom in commercial UAS.

Urbana University is updating its strategic plan and wants to include UAS curriculum, said David M. Ormsbee, the university’s vice president of enrollment management.

“If Ohio is going to be UAS focused, we want to see how we can be UAS focused as well,” Ormsbee said, adding that 80 percent of Urbana alumni reside in Ohio.

Panelists encouraged Ormsbee to explore the field of human-machine relationships, along with IT and software development.

“Ohio,” Ormsbee said, “has a chance to be a leader or a lagger.”

Sinclair Community College in Dayton has approved $1.4 million to support an expansion of its UAS programs, which focus in part on first responders and precision agriculture, said Adam Murka, the school’s director of public affairs.

Sinclair, which has special FAA approval to train students using three types of UAS at the Springfield and Wilmington airports, has 22 students enrolled in a new class this fall called UAS Standards, Regulations and Law.

Murka cited the coming availability of good-paying jobs in the UAS industry.

“We don’t know where it’s going,” he said, “but we know it’s worth going there.”

 

Net Neutrality Faces Uncertain Court Ruling in US

Monday’s hearing is a major step in a long argument over FCC authority over net neutrality

CIO.com

By Grant Gross

Thu, September 05, 2013

 

IDG News Service (Washington, D.C., Bureau) — It’s difficult to predict how an appeals court will rule after it hears arguments Monday in Verizon Communication’s challenge of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules.

Groups on both sides of the debate over the FCC’s rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing traffic say they believe they have a good case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Reading the court’s tea leaves has become as much of a case of wishful thinking as a predictive science.

On one hand, the same appeals court ruled against the FCC in April 2010, when the agency tried to force Comcast to comply with an Internet policy statement after the cable broadband provider was caught slowing BitTorrent and other bandwidth-hogging applications. The court said then that the FCC lacked “any statutorily mandated responsibility” to enforce network neutrality rules.

The legal situation has changed since then, however. Last December, the same appeals court ruled in favor of the FCC after Verizon Wireless had challenged the agency’s authority to impose data roaming rate rules on mobile carriers. The question over the FCC’s authority to impose data roaming rules is similar to the one raised by Verizon in the net neutrality case, some telecom experts said.

Then, in May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a case called City of Arlington v. FCC, that a regulatory agency generally be given broad deference when interpreting its own authority when statutory ambiguity exits. That decision could influence the upcoming appeals court decision, some experts said, although others cautioned that the cases have significant differences.

Adding to the difficulty in predicting an outcome: The court has a number of options it could take. It could strike down the FCC’s net neutrality order, it could uphold it, or it could take some type of middle ground. For example, the court could kick back the rules to the FCC by saying the agency may have the authority but hasn’t made its case.

Verizon argues that the FCC doesn’t have authority to regulate an information service, a class of communications that the agency has previously exempted from most regulation. The net neutrality rules are a violation of Verizon’s First Amendment free speech rights and its Fifth Amendment property rights, the company has argued.

The agency has claimed broad authority over broadband using twisted regulatory logic, Verizon’s lawyers wrote in their brief to the appeals court. As with the earlier Comcast case, “the FCC has acted without statutory authority to insert itself into this crucial segment of the American economy, while failing to show any factual need to do so,” Verizon said in the court brief.

That earlier Comcast decision from the same court presents a major “hurdle” for the FCC, said Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation, a free market think tank that has joined a brief calling for the court to overturn the rules. Although the FCC, in its 2011 net neutrality order, “made an effort to beef up its argument that it possesses authority under the Communications Act to regulate Internet access service, I think the overall impression is that the agency is reaching too far,” May said by email.

May would lean toward the FCC losing the case, he said. The court will look at whether the FCC’s net neutrality rules were reasonable, May said, and many critics have argued the regulations were unnecessary because there have been few examples of violations.

“Even if the court finds that the FCC possesses authority under the statute, there is a pretty good chance the court will find, in light of the lack of persuasive findings concerning market failure, consumer harm, or impact on investment and innovation, that the agency’s decision is arbitrary and capricious,” May said.

The Free State Foundation, free market think tank TechFreedom and other critics of the net neutrality rules argue in their brief that the U.S. government could police major violations of net neutrality principles under existing antitrust law.

If the appeals court strikes down the rules, “net neutrality will be dealt with the same way concerns about competition are dealt with throughout the rest of the economy,” Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, said by email.

The TechFreedom/Free State Foundation brief also repeats concerns that the rules violate broadband providers’ free speech rights. “By denying Internet service providers their editorial discretion and by compelling them to convey content providers’ messages with which they may disagree, the Order violates broadband providers’ First Amendment rights,” the brief says.

The First Amendment and Fifth Amendment concerns are “silly,” countered Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, a digital rights group that has pushed for strong net neutrality rules. The FCC hasn’t taken away Verizon’s ability to communicate on its website or its blogs, and the agency hasn’t taken away the carrier’s network, he said.

Verizon’s argument that its free speech is impacted when it provides the pipes for other people’s messages is “contrary to the notion to what a carrier does and how the Internet works,” he said.

Verizon, during other debates, has argued it should not be held responsible for the communications of its broadband customers, says the Center for Democracy and Technology and a group of legal scholars in their brief to the appeals court.

The FCC’s order does not violate Verizon’s free speech rights, but “instead protects the First Amendment interests of Internet users,” CDT says in the brief. “Certainly, Verizon often does speak via the Internet, using websites, blogs, email, social media, and the like. But its separate conduct in transmitting the speech of others should not be confused with Verizon’s own speech.”

Still, the FCC’s argument that it has so-called ancillary authority to regulate broadband because it has authority over other communications services may be a tough sell, Wood said. The appeals court rejected the ancillary authority in the 2010 Comcast case, he noted.

The Supreme Court’s City of Arlington case and the data roaming case give the FCC a “mini winning streak,” however, Wood said. He gives the FCC a “close to 50 percent chance” of winning the Verizon case.

The FCC has a good chance of winning, countered Michael Weinberg, a vice president at digital rights group Public Knowledge. The agency is “basically right” in arguing it has the authority to regulate broadband under the Communications Act, he said.

The agency had potential court challenges in mind when it drafted the net neutrality order, Weinberg said. “The FCC was thoughtful about this,” he said.

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Congress is back in session this coming week with three critical issues demanding its attention – Syria, the October 1 deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling and immigration reform. Voters have pretty strong opinions on all three.

Despite President Obama’s insistence that the United States has proof of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against its opponents, just 37% of Likely U.S. Voters think the United States should provide increased military assistance to protect the citizens of Syria. In part that’s because only 35% consider Syria a vital national security interest of the United States these days. 

Seventy-three percent (73%) think it’s at least somewhat likely that the debt ceiling will be raised before the federal government begins defaulting on its debts. But just 25% think the debt ceiling should be raised without any significant spending cuts.

Congressional Republicans are insisting on long-term entitlement cuts before they will agree to raise the debt ceiling, and a sizable number of GOP congressmen are willing to shut down the government through the debt ceiling process to prevent funding of the president’s national health care law.

Just 41% of voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the health care law, while 52% view it unfavorably. This includes 18% with a Very Favorable opinion of it and 39% with a Very Unfavorable one.

While the Senate has passed an immigration reform plan with bipartisan support, fewer voters than ever (28%) think the reform measure will make it through the House of Representatives and become law this year. A continuing problem for the reformers is that most voters still think tougher border control is the most important element of any immigration reform plan, but just 32% believe it is even somewhat likely that the federal government would actually secure the border to prevent future illegal immigration if the plan passed.

The economy, health care and job creation remain at the top of the list of 15 important voting issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.

Consumer and investor confidence are down from recent highs but are still generally running at higher levels than have been measured since 2008.

The federal government announced on Friday that employers added 169,000 jobs in August, with the unemployment rate falling to 7.3 percent. This marginal gain was predicted in the Rasmussen Employment Index for August released on Tuesday. The index which measures worker confidence rebounded last month, rising more than three points over July and up nearly 15 points from a year ago. 

Still, Americans are more pessimistic about the U.S. job market than they have been all year. Only 25% now believe the job market is better than it was a year ago. Thirty-one percent (31%) think the job market is worse today than it was a year ago, the highest finding since December.

Just 19% think the government should help out the long-term unemployed in a big way, with nine percent (9%) who say their unemployment benefits should be extended indefinitely and 10% who say the government should just hire them. Forty percent (40%) think the federal government should do nothing at all for the long-term unemployed, the highest finding in three years of regular surveying.

Americans continue to believe that government workers have it better than those employed in the private sector when it comes to pay and job security. They also don’t think government employees work as hard.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Democrats have a favorable view of unions. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Republicans – and 52% of adults not affiliated with either of the two major parties – view them unfavorably.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of all Americans express a Very Favorable opinion of people who start their own businesses, and nearly as many (52%) say the same of small business owners. Just two percent (2%) feel that way about Congress.

Only seven percent (7%) of Likely Voters now think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Just 23% think their representative in Congress is the best possible person for the job.

Democrats lead Republicans by two points on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot

 The president’s total job approval remained unchanged at 47% in August, still at its lowest level since December 2011. Following Obama’s reelection, his full-month approval rating jumped to 56% in December but has steadily decreased since then.

As they have since mid-April, the president’s daily approval ratings now match those found for much of his first term in office.

In other surveys last week:

— Thirty percent (30%) of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction.

— Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened up a seven-point lead over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – 45% to 38% – as the Virginia gubernatorial race enters the post-Labor Day stretch.

— Seventy percent (70%) of Americans rate their own overall health as good or excellent, but 36% think they are overweight.

— The Massachusetts Supreme Court heard arguments this past week challenging the legality of saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. Sixty-eight percent (68%) believe students should be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and 83% think the Pledge should include the words “under God.”

— With school back in session, first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign is back in the spotlight, but only 18% of Americans think the federal government should have a say in nutritional standards at schools.

— Eighty-seven percent (87%) of adults with children at home attending elementary or secondary school say their children have received all the vaccinations they are supposed to have. Seventy-six percent (76%) believe children who do not receive all their vaccinations will cause health problems for other children.

— Just 14% of Americans rarely or never watch movies at home.

— Thirty-five percent (35%) say that when they celebrate Labor Day, they honor the contribution of workers in society which was the original intent of the holiday. As has been the case for years, however, many more (50%) view Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer instead.

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