UAVs May Patrol High Arctic

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With ice floes melting in the Arctic Ocean, maritime traffic is increasing across the Northwest Passage -- a fuel-saving shortcut between Asia and Europe. To ease security concerns about all that traffic, the U.S. Air Force wants to step up deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles in the vast Arctic region. "There's some extensive work that has to be done with the Federal Aviation Administration and Transport Canada," Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart told The Associated Press, "to ensure that we use these systems in a way that doesn't provide a challenge for our general aviation friends." He said air traffic congestion in the region is a problem, and UAV operators must be trained to navigate in the North's heavily wooded terrain. Gen. Renuart commands the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which commemorated its 50th anniversary this week.

"The Arctic is a new area that is important to us because of the changes in ice floes," Renuart told the AP. Russian flyovers in the region, which have recently increased, are not a concern, he added.