LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The skies over Southern California could soon become the latest testing ground for military drone aircraft.
A report Sunday from newspaper UT San Diego says local companies have applied for a drone testing permit from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The proposed Southern California testing area extends from Edwards Air Force Base west to the Pacific Ocean and as far south as the U.S.-Mexico border.
Military and economic groups want the Pentagon to use the Southland as one of six proposed testing grounds to be selected nationwide.
CBS News Military Consultant Mike Lyons told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that Southern California is already home to several companies that employ thousands of workers to help build drones, and putting a test range here would be a natural fit.
“The military wants to make the best use possible of the technology, make sure that it has all the different scenarios, and I think you’re going to see more drone technology deployed in some of the built-up cities,” Lyons said. “That’s why San Diego might have a leg up against a purely desert region.”
Lyons warned the test range would be unlikely to debut anytime soon, but added the drone program has the full support of top military officials.
“It’ll probably take a little longer than people expect, but setting up this kind of playpen in the sandbox, so to speak, is something, I think, the military would really embrace and something that would really help the drone technology,” he said.
The FAA has received 50 applications to eventually create test sites in 37 states, according to the Associated Press.