US Military Bought Chinese-Made Drones for Target Practice

Chinese-manufactured drones purchased by the Pentagon months after their use was prohibited because of cybersecurity concerns are being used as “targets” and are not being deployed with elite U.S. forces on missions, the Pentagon official in charge of acquiring military equipment has said. A FILE – This picture, taken from a U.S. military website, shows a Chinese-made DJI drone being used at Joint Base Andrews, Md., in March 2019.Congressional concerns Members of Congress have become so concerned about the Pentagon’s continued use of Chinese-manufactured drones that a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation last month that would bar federal agencies from buying drones from any country deemed a risk to national security. The American Security Drone Act of 2019 would prohibit federal departments and agencies from purchasing any commercial, off-the-shelf drone assembled or manufactured in China. Federal officials would have 180 days to stop using the equipment. Earlier this year, the Senate Armed Services Committee also included a provision in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act banning the use of Chinese-made drones. Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut who penned the provision, said the measure would protect national security and support U.S. manufacturing. For its part, DJI said that its customers have complete control over how their information is collected, stored and transmitted. Michael Oldenburg, a spokesman for DJI’s innovation in the United States, wrote in an e-mail to DJI’s U.S. customers that reports of DJI cybersecurity vulnerabilities were “completely false.” The Department of Defense issued a ban on the purchase and use of all commercial off-the-shelf drones, citing “cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” in a memo from then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan dated May 23, 2018.