Each site would be subject to privacy laws to protect U.S. citizens.
The Defense Department says the demand for drones and their expanding missions requires routine and unfettered access to domestic airspace, including around airports and cities, for military testing and training. Currently, the military tests drones in specially designated swaths of airspace in mostly remote parts of the country where they are likely to encounter relatively few other aircraft.
The Customs and Border Patrol uses drones along the U.S.-Mexico border. And the FAA has granted several hundred permits to universities, police departments and other government agencies to use small, low-flying drones. For example, the sheriff’s department in Montgomery County, Texas, has a 50-pound ShadowHawk helicopter drone intended to supplement its SWAT team.