US Military Can Now Blast Wayward Hobby Drones Out of the Sky

Photo: Getty

Drone enthusiasts take heed: If you don’t want to see your precious drone blasted into a million pieces, keep clear of US military installations.

The Pentagon has approved a new policy that authorizes military bases to shoot down private and commercial drones encroaching on its airspace.

First to report the news, the Military Times says the policy was sent out to US armed services in July. The full contents of the policy remain classified. The Pentagon sent the services guidance on how to communicate its new rules to local communities on Friday.

Advertisement

The policy was announced by Pentagon spokesperson Navy Cpt. Jeff Davis during a press gaggle Monday morning. Davis told reporters that US military bases “retain the right of self-defense when it comes to UAVS or drones operating over [them].” The new policy allows the military to track, disable, and destroy drones, he said. The drones could also be seized or impounded.

The Military Times highlighted one issue bound to arise from the new policy, noting that it’s not always clear which airspace belongs to the Defense Department.

The Air Force, for example, maintains its arsenal Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles in 150 underground silos in vast fields around Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. But the land is only leased from commercial and private farmers who use the rest of the area for crops or livestock. Those farmers sometimes find it easier to launch a drone to check on their cows or agriculture than to cover the miles by foot or truck.

Advertisement

It was not clear, the Military Times said, whether the policy had affected airspace access around the silos or at other bases—again, the details remain classified. However, Davis told reporters Monday that the changes had been vetted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The military’s engagement with drones “will depend upon the specific circumstances,” he said.

The FAA restricted private and commercial drone activity near 133 military installations earlier this year. (There’s an interactive map online if you’re curious.) Violators could face stiff fines or jail time—so no matter how much you may want to see the military blow a buzzing drone out of the sky, it’s best not to tempt fate.

Advertisement

[Military Times]

Share This Story

About the author

Dell Cameron

Privacy, security, tech policy | Got a tip? Email: dell@gizmodo.com | Send me encrypted texts using Signal: (202)556-0846

EmailTwitterPosts
PGP Fingerprint: A70D 517E FB9A 02C9 C56E 86D5 877E 64E7 10DF A8AEPGP Key
OTR Fingerprint: 2374A8EA 6D2B7712 0D82D659 C0FE8253 A3F080FD