Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Department Of Defense Appropriations Bill Includes $2 Million For Military Drone Project Through Rochester Institute Of Technology

Project Will Help Keep Soldiers Out of Danger, Gather Vital Intelligence on Terrorists

September 21, 2010

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the Department of Defense appropriations bill includes $2 million for the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to perform research for the U.S. military that will improve the current fleet of unmanned drones and surveillance aircraft that are currently being used in Afghanistan and other places around the world to combat terrorists and other enemies.

“Unmanned drones and surveillance aircraft have made a real difference for our men and women in the field and are on the frontlines of our national defense as we battle our terrorist enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Our troops are  safer because of these technologies -- and RIT is at the forefront of making them better and better,” Schumer said. “These federal dollars will go a long way towards keeping our troops out of harm’s way, and enhancing our national security by making sure terrorist cells around the world are disrupted or destroyed.”

“RIT is a world-class institution conducting cutting-edge research into unmanned surveillance and drones,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This critical investment would help save the lives of our men and women in uniform and enhancing our national security.”

“We are extremely grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their help in securing federal investment in this important research program,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “It is our hope that this research will amplify the ability to accelerate the implementation of new technologies that will support numerous military applications and improve our national security operations throughout the world."

RIT’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies will use the federal funds to advance the capabilities of several military platforms. Specifically, RIT will research ways to improve the military’s Autonomous Systems, unmanned drones and silent surveillance aircraft, both of which are used extensively in Afghanistan. The aircrafts often go into dangerous territories allowing our service men and women to avoid unacceptable risk , keeping terrorist cells off base and gathering vital intelligence.  Intelligence gathered from unmanned surveillance aircrafts help troops directly in the field by gathering and disseminating information rapidly.   

Last week,  the appropriations bill for the Department of Defense passed the Defense subcommittee. The legislation will be voted on by the full committee before heading to the floor for a full vote before the Senate. The bill will then proceed to the House-Senate Conference Committee, before final passage in both chambers, and sent to the President to become law.