Air Force Purchase of Chinese Drones Raises Security Concerns

Issue 43

11.02.20 - The U.S. Air Force recently bought dozens of Chinese-made drones to use for testing and training purposes, according to officials and records of the purchase, fueling heated concerns about continued Defense Department use of technology that lawmakers consider a potential threat to national security.

The Air Force Special Operations Command, the service’s highly trained commando division, bought 57 drones in September from Shenzhen China-based Da-Jiang Innovations, or DJI, the world’s largest maker of unmanned aerial systems. They will be used to train airmen on how they could be used against the U.S. or its allies and how to defeat them, officials said.

Air Force officials said the drones are cost-effective and useful, and a DJI spokesman said they don’t pose a risk of data loss or theft.

But critics have said the drones could be used to gather information about the U.S. military and critical infrastructure, training tactics, or in other instances of espionage and data collection, sending the information back to China.

“Why would we allow the U.S. government to purchase drones from China?” Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) said. “Doing so allows Beijing to gather sensitive data from us and rewards an adversary at the expense of our own American manufacturers.”

Source: Wall Street Journal