Is the FAA Endangering America’s Stealth Fighters?

    Michael Peck

    Security, North America

    And what can be done to stop it? 

    Even as the skies are becoming more crowded with airplanes and drones, the creaky U.S. air traffic control system is struggling to keep up. Hence the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has come up with a plan that requires aircraft to broadcast their positions to avoid mid-air collisions.

    It seems like a sensible and long overdue approach to boosting air safety. But what if aircraft have good reason not to disclose their location? Or more specifically, what if they are military planes—and particularly stealth aircraft—on a mission that requires anonymity?

    It’s a dilemma between safety and secrecy that the Pentagon and FAA have failed to grapple with, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

    The GAO examined how the military is implementing an FAA requirement for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. Aircraft equipped with ADS-B use satellite GPS to determine their location, speed and altitude, and then broadcast that information to ground controllers and other aircraft. In 2010, the FAA mandated that all civilian and military aircraft flying in U.S. national airspace must be equipped with ADS-B Out technology by 2020.

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