Air Force to begin testing drone-fired lasers over North Dakota

Monday, July 23, 2012
By Paul Martin
July 20, 2012

On July 26, the U.S. Air National Guard will get the green light to begin firing lasers from unmanned attack drones in a vast swath of skies over North Dakota, despite the concerns of local commercial pilots.

At the Devils Lake home of the North Dakota Army National Guard, pilots train on MQ-1 Predator drones — the most prevalent unmanned attack vehicle in the military arsenal. In late June the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published an updated set of rules and regulations covering Devils Lake, creating several large restricted airspaces over the Camp Gilbert C. Grafton military base.

The reason: the Air Force plans to begin tests of potentially dangerous lasers shot remotely from the drone.

“Sorties will be limited to the minimum necessary for training, be confined to restricted airspace, and be executed against ground targets for laser designation, completely within an existing Army small arms weapons training range,” Billie Jo Lorius, a public information officer with the North Dakota National Guard, told

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