US Government to Stop Buying Chinese-made Drones

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazin ) The U.S. Interior Department stopped multiple Chinese-made drones from tracking wildfires, monitoring dams, wildlife, and volcanoes. This happened more than a year ago, and probably they won’t be tracking or monitoring again anytime soon.

A five-year ban has been put on drones made in China by a bill moving through Congress. This would put a stoppage of the U.S. government’s purchase of drones. The fear is that drones made in Shenzhen, China, by such companies as DJI, could become Chinese spying equipment. 

However, this ban “could create problems for government users since DJI dominates the global market for” many of the small drones used by “hobbyists, photographers, and many businesses and governments.” 

Carrick Detweiler, the CEO of Drone Amplified, said that affordable and reliable drones other than the Chinese-made drones are difficult to find. 

Detweiler continued. “Everyone I talk to in the federal government is moving away from DJI whether or not these bills are passed.” Detweiler is also a “computer science professor at the University o Nebraska-Lincoln.” Detweiler added that they would like to buy U.S.-made drones, but “it’s just that the U.S. drone industry was killed off by DJI a decade ago.” It would take several years for the U.S.-made drones to be available.

The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which was nearing completion in the Senate on Friday, had the China-made drones “folded into” it. However, it has been postponed. 

The ban on the Chinese-made drones wouldn’t be effective until 2023. However, “many federal agencies have already imposed temporary restrictions.” Phasing out of the Chinese-made drones has also be an option.

If the bill were passed, it would create other problems in the Department of Homeland Security.  With the passage of the bill, federal funds used to buy the drones would be stopped, and the police department depends on “federal help to field new equipment.”

The Interior Department in the U.S. said it flew more than “11,000 drone flights in 2019 before temporarily grounding its drones over cybersecurity concerns.” The flying of drones has been stopped except in emergency situations. 


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