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For US aerospace companies that are developing UAVs heavier than 55lbs for application for the DOD, is it possible to test UAVs over the ocean outside what we would normally consider US controlled airspace legally without a FAA specific exemption?

I should add that in this particular case the UAV can be launched and recovered from Sea.

Thoughts?

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  • $\begingroup$ There are already restricted airspaces inside the US airspace that the DoD uses to do their things (testing, training, that kind of fun stuff) in. But just for you to look at, this is the airspace that the US controls; it extends far or 20 miles off the coast for most of it and the parts where it does not, it is some other country's airspace. $\endgroup$ Sep 22 '17 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ Legal is more of a civilian term but this topic is more into the military scope, e.g. if things goes south it will be the military talking to you rather than FBI or PD, since when you are on a ship in the middle of the ocean you are quite possibly not bounded by the US laws anymore, but it's advisable to inform the relevant authority who are monitoring or using the airspace to avoid unnecessary trouble and conflict. Extreme example is when China shot a ICBM into Pacific in the 80s they had to inform every country to avoid WW3, but they did it anyway without giving a single thought of US laws. $\endgroup$ Sep 22 '17 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ There may be a difference between "what we would normally consider US controlled airspace" which is determined by UN (ICAO) international agreements and an area where US are sovereign. Such delegated areas include North Atlantic Oceanic Control Areas under responsibility of US/Canada/UK/France (cf. FIR viewer). $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 22 '17 at 21:56
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The United States does not own or control airspace outside its territorial limits, but there is an exception; our government has extended Class A airspace out to twelve miles from the coast of the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. If you launch the UAV at sea and stay out of US airspace, there's no need to ask for an exemption.

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