“Look mummy, there’s no plane up in the sky”. How many times we hear a roar powerful enough to shake the earth, then we look up to the sky but can spot nothing.
Well, it’s probably a drone, going around a few miles above our heads. An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is a highly sophisticated military aircraft without a human pilot onboard, whizzing up to 400 kph, remote-controlled by fixed or mobile stations. Skies of Sicily look pretty busy these days. Great traffic of war machines, especially in the areas of Birgi and Sigonella airports, two of the most important military airfields of the island.
Close to the military airfields, there are two civil airports which have been lately covered with “Notam” – an acronym for “Notice to airmen” – or communications relating to technical or logistical air traffic safety. Those notices would impose, as reported by the Rita Atria association, “the suspension of the standard instrument procedures during access, departure and arrival of aircraft, from June 1st to August 29th 2012 for ‘activities of Unmanned Aircraft “.
At the airport of Catania, however, the civilian pilots were already on alert since last March 8th, and until 1st September this year – as the journalist Antonio Mazzeo writes on his blog – “must meet much more complex procedures to avoid collision with unmanned aircraft “.
Thus Global Hawks, Predators and Reapers go about undisturbed in the Sicilian skies. But is all this allowed by the Italian government? Well, yes. According to Law 178 of July 14, 2004, relating to “Measures for remote piloted aircraft of the Armed Forces”, the drones can be used “for defence and national security.” They can be used with certain limitations established by the Air Force and the Italian National Agency for Civil Aviation, with regard to aspects of control and air traffic management. “But – says the law - in situations of crisis or armed conflict the use of the drones is not subject to any limitations.”
Are we sure that these “war games” aircraft, also condemned by the UN, all belong to the Italian armed forces, as required by law? Given the U.S. military presence at Birgi and Sigonella, some doubt arises spontaneously. “The Obama administration – the Rita Atria Association says – uses the aircrafts also to kill suspected terrorists and in those missions there are always the so-called side effects: the killing of children, women and innocent men. Does the will of Italian population count? We have not instructed anyone to speak in Parliament to allow unmanned aircraft to do what they want during wars like the one in Libya and Afghanistan, flying in our airspace and placing severe restrictions on civil aviation. That’s why we need to mobilize against drones, to demilitarize our territories and regain our national sovereignty. ”