Running head: General Atomics and Their Drones1 General Atomics and Their Drones A Look into the Ethical and Social Responsibilities of General Atomics Roxanne L Culp Embry Riddle Aeronautical University General Atomics and Their Drones 2 Abstract Drones appear to be the topic of conversation today. Less than a decade ago they were rarely mentioned. If you heard about these unmanned aerial vehicles you probably never imagined that they would become so crucial to the War on Terror. The U. S. military and other government agencies use drones to save money and keep humans out of harm’s way but there are many who disagree with their use.
People are concerned about how the drones are used in combat overseas and surveillance at home. The debate over the use of drones has become a top issue in national politics and has many worried about safety and privacy. General Atomics Corporation is leading the industry in aerospace and defense. There are reported concerns regarding General Atomics and lobbying. Individuals are concerned that with all their lobbying big business will come first before what is ethically right. Is General Atomics being driven by greed and power or are they a socially responsible ethical power house?
General Atomics and Their Drones 3 General Atomics was founded in 1955 and was a division of the company General Dynamics. They initially focused on exploring peaceful uses of atomic energy. General Atomics and their affiliates are now one of the world’s leading resources for high-technology systems, remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies. The increase use of drones by the military has made General Atomics one of the top defense contractors.
General Atomics is best known for manufacturing the Predator. The predator, an unmanned spy plane, is considered one of the most important tools in today’s war on terror. Drones such as the Predator are used in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The military and Government believe that drones are crucial to the success of the War on terror. The use of drones to gather intelligence and surveillance was instrumental to finding Osama Bin Laden. Drones or Unmanned aerial vehicles have come a long way since the late 90s when they were only used for surveillance.
After the attack on September 11 the CIA joined with the military to arm the drones. The first drone deployed after September 11th was the Predator. The ability of the Predator to hover over a target for hours and relay live surveillance was invaluable. When the Predator was later modified and equipped with missiles and or other munitions it allowed General Atomics and Their Drones 4 the United States to carry out certain missions without risking the lives of military personnel. Drones are a rapidly growing form of technology, used for numerous purposes outside the military.
They are used to study weather systems and ecosystems. Some law enforcement agencies are using them. Small private companies have developed remote-controlled mini-aircraft equipped with cameras available for sale. As CNN Money explains, (2013) “Journalists and sports photographers use them in lieu of expensive helicopters. Real estate agents employ them for aerial photos and video. Wildlife researchers and search-and-rescue outfits are using them and studying the potential benefits. Even the utility industry is interested in having them hunt for downed power lines after a storm.
” There is little doubt that the drone business is booming and there is money to be made. Drones without question have changed the way we fight wars, but many question the ethics behind their use. There is fear that the use this technology, which seems to be evolving faster than many can keep up with, will be misused. Just this week General Atomics made the news when protestors showed up outside their offices. General Atomics and Their Drones 5 These individuals are opposed to unmanned aerial vehicles carrying out deadly overseas strikes .
Early Friday, about 40 protesters organized by the group Code Pink descended on an upscale La Jolla neighborhood to stage a street demonstration in front of the home of Neal Blue, chief executive officer of General Atomics, which manufactures the Predator drone. (Walker 2013) The company issued a statement saying it was proud of its remotely piloted aircraft which “protect our troops and support national security. ” “GA is honored that it can contribute in this way while at the same time recognizing the right to demonstrate,” the statement said. General Atomics has more than just a group of protestors questioning their ethics.
There has been much talk of the influence they hold in congress. Business lobbying happens every day because businesses want to promote legislation that’s in their organizations best interest. Since 2005, the Center for Responsible Politics reported General Atomics had spent over $1. 5 million per year in lobbying efforts from 2005 to 2011. General Atomics was the single biggest corporate underwriter of Congressional trips between January 2000 and June 2005, according to a nine-month study of congressional travel disclosure forms. The company spent more than $660,000 on 86 trips taken by members of Congress, their aides and families.
General Atomics and Their Drones 6 General Atomics has their own political action committee to represent and influence government. General Atomics is not alone in this. Drone manufacturers and their trade group, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, spent more than $100 million lobbying Washington last year. Members of the association, which includes the nation’s top defense contractors, also spent more than $26 million on political campaigns through their company PACs. Is this just how politics work? Is this the Golden rule of politics? “He who has the gold rules” or is this just good business.
(Postelnicu, 2006) Attempts by business to influence government are a major and accepted part of the public policy process in the United States. (Buchholtz, 2012) Though some might find it unethical for big money companies to use money to get Government behind their company it is not illegal. Companies do it every day and if General Atomics sat back and let other drone manufactures do the lobbying they might never have gotten as far as they have. If General Atomics didn’t lobby to get their product out there they wouldn’t be fulfilling their corporate social responsibility.
They have an economic responsibly to be profitable and maximize sales. General Atomics and Their Drones 7 General Atomics has shown many signs that they are being a social responsible company. They have brought jobs and economic security to their community. In a recent article it was stated that drones are a vital part of the region’s economy. Led by Northrop Grumman and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems locally, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) production neared $1. 3 billion in San Diego during 2011, said Erik Bruvold, National University Institute System for Policy Research President.
UAVs now make up the largest segment of San Diego’s defense manufacturing sector. In 2011 it supported 7,135 direct and indirect jobs throughout the county. (Jones, 2013) General Atomics promotes energy conservation, educational causes such as GA’s education outreach programs which include elements supporting fusion energy research and development as well as general science education. According to their company web site (www. ga-asi. com/) General Atomics is committed to developing innovative energy solutions to meet global needs. They are looking at alternative technologies that are safe and economical.
They are always looking at new technology and they continually try to improve quality. ( General Atomics) General Atomics and Their Drones 8 In conclusion I believe that General Atomics is a socially responsible and ethical company. They used their advances in technology to support the military. They are proud of their advanced accomplishments and continue to strive for new technology. General Atomics seems to be on top of their game with talks of other regional governments expressing interest in their Predator drone. People are always nervous about new technology and how it will affect them.
The drones and what they are capable of have been somewhat on the secret side and many people don’t really know of their benefits. With such growing concern drone manufactures such as General Atomics could use their public affairs department to release more information on drones that according to many will be part of everyday life by 2015. Bibliography GENERAL ATOMICS. (N. D. ). HTTP://WWW. GA. COM/. SAN DIEGO: GENERAL ATOMICS. Buchholtz, A. B. (2012). Business & Sociey Ethics,Sustainability, and Satkeholder Management. South-Western Cengage. Jones, H. J. (2013, January 10).
Drone Business Bif Economic force locally. San Diego Tribune, pp. 1-2. Levs, J. (2013, Febuary 8). CNN Explains: U. S. drones. CNN. Open Secrets. org. (2011). Lobbying and Spending Data. The Center for Responsive Politics. Postelnicu, A. (2006, June 05). General Atomics top Corprate trip-giver for Congree. Market Watch, p. 1. U. S. Air Force. (2011). Fact Sheet General Aotomics Predator. National Museum of the Air Force, 344 & pg1. Walker, M. (2013, April 5). Anti-drone protests hit CEO’s home http://www. utsandiego. com/news/2013/apr/05/drones-protest/ UT San Diego p1