Prying Eyes? 95 Unauthorized Drones Passed Over Pentagon in Two Months

© AP PhotoThis is an aerial view of the five-sided Pentagon building, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va., in 1975
This is an aerial view of the five-sided Pentagon building, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va., in 1975 - Sputnik International
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The US Department of Defense detected 95 unauthorized drone flights near the Pentagon between July and September of 2017, sparking concerns that foreign agents or terrorists could use UAVs to spy on or even attack the Pentagon.

The DoD announced a study to determine the number of drone flights over US military bases and to determine what countermeasures were needed to protect against the security threat these drones posed.

Pablo Estrada, a spokesman for airspace security company Dedrone, which assisted in the survey, said that his company used radio sensors to detect the manufacturer, model and distance of the overhead drones. Most of the drones that were detected were small models available to consumers.

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"There are larger business drones that are very powerful but they are also expensive and quite large," said Estrada in a statement.

The Pentagon deployed drone detection equipment at two bases: Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, DC, from July 19 to August 24 and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, from August 24 to September 23. Both bases are within a few minutes' drive of the main complex of the Pentagon.

"We detected 95 instances of drone activity," wrote Myer-Henderson Hall public affairs director Michael Howard in an email to Stars and Stripes. "We did not attempt to determine the nature of the drone activity, whether it was recreational or something else."

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Both of the bases are within a 15-mile radius inner ring of a "no drone zone" where all drone flights are banned without specific Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization. The FAA has banned drone flights over 133 domestic military bases.

While the operators of the drones are unknown, the UAVs could have been used to monitor things like troop movements, supply levels or training exercises.

Drones have changed the face of warfare and espionage in a very short period of time. In 2017, US military personnel in Iraq were equipped with anti-drone weapons after it was discovered that Daesh had been using UAVs as miniature bombers, dropping grenades on targets from the sky.

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That same year, US Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris asked Tokyo to ban drone flights over American military bases in Japan.

Dedrone also published an article in December claiming that drones were an increasing risk in cybersecurity, as a UAV equipped with hacking software could identify vulnerabilities in a network from the air without every being detected.

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