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W. J. Hennigan | The LA Times

AeroVironment Chief Executive Timothy E. Conver said the decrease in drone sales was expected. Above, Conver shows off a Nano Hummingbird drone last year.

AeroVironment Chief Executive Timothy E. Conver said the decrease in drone sales was due, in part, to contracting delays and pending international orders that are working through the export administrative process.

AeroVironment Inc., the Monrovia company that makes small spy drones and electric vehicle charging systems, posted second-quarter earnings of $8.7 million, or 39 cents a share, despite decreased sales of its robotic aircraft.

The results beat analysts’ average estimate of 23 cents a share.

In the same period last year the company had a profit of $6.6 million, or 30 cents a share.

AeroVironment is the Pentagon’s top supplier of small drones — including the Raven, Wasp and Puma models — that give troops on the ground a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening over a ridge or around a bend.

The company, which makes its drones in Simi Valley, said revenue decreased 0.1% to $80.3 million, compared with $80.4 million for the same quarter last year.

Drone sales for the quarter that ended Oct. 27 fell 2.2% to $65.4 million from $66.9 million in the same quarter last year.

But sales of the company’s charging systems for electric vehicles increased 10% to $14.8 million from $13.4 million a year earlier. In addition, the company said it spent $44.6 million, or 10% less than last year, on sales expenses. Read More

David Zucchino | Los Angeles Time

(Video by bravenewfoundation)

Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged, a new study by human rights researchers at Stanford University and New York University contends.

The report, “Living Under Drones,” also concludes that the classified CIA program has not made America any safer and instead has turned the Pakistani public against U.S. policy in the volatile region. It recommends that the Obama administration reevaluate the program to make it more transparent and accountable, and to prove compliance with international law.

“Real people are suffering real harm” but are largely ignored in government or news media discussions of drone attacks, said James Cavallaro of Stanford, one of the study’s authors.

Cavallaro said the study was intended to challenge official accounts of the drones as precise instruments of high-tech warfare with few adverse consequences. The Obama administration has championed the use of remotely operateddrones for killing senior Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, but the study concludes that only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders. Read More

W.J. Hennigan | Los Angeles Times

AeroVironment Chief Executive Timothy E. Conver said the decrease in drone sales was expected. Above, Conver shows off a Nano Hummingbird drone last year.

AeroVironment Inc., the Monrovia company that makes small spy drones and electric vehicle charging systems, posted a first-quarter loss of $1.4 million, or 6 cents a share, brought on by decreased sales of its robotic aircraft.Analysts on average had forecast a loss of 3 cents a share.

In the same period last year the company had a profit of $326,000, or 2 cents a share.

AeroVironment is the Pentagon’s top supplier of small drones — including the Raven, Wasp and Puma models — that give troops on the ground a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening over a ridge or around a bend.

The company, which makes drones in its Simi Valley facilities, said revenue decreased 5% to $58.7 million compared with $62 million for the same quarter last year.

Drone sales for the quarter fell 6.5% to $48.8 million from $52.2 million in the same quarter last year.

In a conference call, AeroVironment Chief Executive Timothy E. Conver said the decrease in drone sales was expected. The company depends largely on funding from the Pentagon, which is winding down its presence in the Middle East. Read More

Brian Bennett | LA Times

A Coast Guard crew patrols near Puerto Rico. The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to expand unmanned drone flights in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to fight drug smuggling. (David S. Holloway, Getty Images / October 24, 2006)

WASHINGTON — After quietly testing Predator drones over the Bahamas for more than 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security plans to expand the unmanned surveillance flights into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to fight drug smuggling, according to U.S. officials.

The move would dramatically increase U.S. drone flights in the Western Hemisphere, more than doubling the number of square miles now covered by the department’s fleet of nine surveillance drones, which are used primarily on the northern and southwestern U.S. borders.

But the high-tech aircraft have had limited success spotting drug runners in the open ocean. The drones have largely failed to impress veteran military, Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency officers charged with finding and boarding speedboats, fishing vessels and makeshift submarines ferrying tons of cocaine and marijuana to America’s coasts.

“The question is: Will they be effective? We have no systematic evidence on how effective they are,” said Bruce Bagley, who studies U.S. counter-narcotics efforts at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

Read More

Brian Bennett | The Los Angeles Times

Smoke billows from an aircraft crash site near Nanticoke, Md. The Navy says the unmanned aircraft on a routine maintenance flight crashed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. No injuries were reported. (Keith Goldsborough / The Daily Times / June 11, 2012)

WASHINGTON — An unmanned Navy surveillance aircraft crashed into a marsh in southern Maryland on Monday without causing any injuries or apparent property damage on the ground, officials said.

Officials said that the Global Hawk, a high-altitude drone aircraft that normally carries sophisticated cameras and sensors, was on a test mission from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, about 65 miles southeast of Washington, when the ground pilot lost control of the plane.

After Navy personnel lost contact with the drone, a Navy F/A-18 fighter jet pilot flew over the area and spotted the smoking airframe on the edge of the Nanticoke River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Navy officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

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