If other states continue to follow the USA’s lead when it comes to military procurement, then UAVs/drone planes have a big future in Europe. According to an ‘op-ed’ by Roger Cohen in the New York times:
When the United States went into Iraq in 2003, it had a handful of pilotless planes, or drones; it now has over 7,000. The invasion force had no unmanned ground vehicles; the U.S. armed forces now employ more than 12,000.
The use of drones has also increased markedly under Obama’s presidency:
Since taking office, President Obama has shown a quiet predilection for drone warfare. He’s been vacuuming up targets. There are two programs in operation: a publicly acknowledged military one in Iraq and Afghanistan and a covert C.I.A. program targeting terror suspects in countries including Pakistan…
Obama has authorized as many drone strikes in Pakistan in nine and a half months as George W. Bush did in his last three years in office — at least 41 C.I.A. missile strikes, or about one a week, that may have killed more than 500 people.
One of the criticisms levelled at the NeoConOpticon report was that it “exaggerated” the likelihood that the security technologies being pursued under the EU’s R&D programme would ever be implemented. “Many projects will fall by the leeway”, suggested one security expert. Of course, but I can’t help thinking that there’s a lot of mileage in the numerous UAV projects funded to date.
For more on UAV’s check out the website of the New American Foundation, referred to in the NY Times article: drones.