Commercial, Military

White House Throws Support Behind US Senate Counter-Drone Legislation

By Calvin Biesecker, Defense Daily | July 18, 2018
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Photo by Greg Clarke

The White House late Tuesday issued a statement of support for a bill circulating in the Senate that would give the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security limited authorities to detect, track and mitigate potential threats from small drones, they kind that typically can be purchased commercially by anyone.

The statement from the White House press secretary expressed the Trump administration’s support for integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace while balancing the needs for public safety and security.

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Legislation in the Senate and House would enable testing and evaluation of counter UAS systems in the U.S. Shown above is Fortem Technologies DroneHunter, which is a small UAS equipped with a radar detecting, classifying and mitigating potential drone threats. Photo: Fortem Technologies

Legislation in the Senate and House would enable testing and evaluation of counter UAS systems in the U.S. Shown above is Fortem Technologies' DroneHunter, which is a small UAS equipped with a radar for detecting, classifying and mitigating potential drone threats. Photo: Fortem Technologies

“Achieving that goal requires the development of a legal framework that protects the public from nefarious uses of this technology, such as facilitating terrorist attacks, conducting espionage, or facilitating other criminal activities such as illicit surveillance, interfering with the safe operation of aircraft, interfering with law enforcement operations, delivering contraband inside prisons, or smuggling drugs or other harmful materials across our Nation’s borders,” the Statement says. It also says the legislation will boost growth of the commercial drone industry and help with integration of small UAS into the national airspace.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last month approved the bipartisan Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S.2836) bill introduced by several members of the panel that gives DHS and the Justice Department limited legal authorities to counter threats posed by malicious drones. On Tuesday, companion legislation (H.R. 6401) was introduced in the House by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), a member of the Judiciary Committee.

The White House says that current laws limit the government’s ability to test and use counter UAS technologies, specifically for detecting, tracking and mitigating systems that may pose a threat. It is illegal to down an aircraft in the national airspace. The Senate and House bills would enable testing and evaluation of these technologies, including for disrupting and disabling potentially malicious UAS systems.

 

Read more at Defense Daily.

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