10:17 GMT +322 October 2018
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    US Military Can Now Disable and Destroy Consumer Drones as It Sees Fit

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    The US Army has been given the power to shoot down and/or seize any drone it deems a threat - whether private or commercial. The country is not alone in seeking sanction to curb drone usage by civilians and businesses in sensitive airspace.

    The move follows the April adoption of a Pentagon policy of shooting down drones that encroach upon the airspace of military bases and enter no-fly zones.

    Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) guidelines already restrict drones from many areas. They are not allowed anywhere near military installations, cannot fly over national parks or large stadiums when events are underway, and are restricted from flying within a five-mile radius of airports.

    In order to comply with these regulations, drone manufacturers have taken precautions such geofencing, which creates "deadzones" in which drones lose signal with their operators and effectively fall out of the sky. Moreover, drone enthusiasts have created maps noting areas where the devices are not allowed.

    However, these measures do not always work, and there are suggestions hackers could easily get around transmission restrictions.

    Full details of the policy are classified, but Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis said it broadly covered "rules of engagement" for military bases when faced with civilian or commercial drones.

    Exactly how each US military installation will deal with a drone is said to be contingent upon the specific circumstances, but the array of measures that can be used to "disable, destroy and track" non-military drones is seemingly extensive — lazers, radio jamming, nets and even bullets are all part of the drone bring down arsenal, which the armed forces are free to use as they see fit. 

    What's not clear is how the guidelines apply to effective military installations that are not officially bases, but leased to the army by civilians, such as farmland housing missile silos.

    They are not no-fly zones, and farmers often use drones to monitor their farms and cattle. Whether the US military will or even can have the authority to destroy, disable and/or track private drones in these areas is a significant question.

    In any event, guidance has been sent out to all branches of the armed forces on how they should communicate the new policy to local communities — with 133 military bases dotted around the country, that's potentially a large number of drone owners to warn.

    The US' approach to the issue is in stark contrast with the French government's policy of training large birds of prey to ground drones that enter restricted airspace — for each successful attack, the avian protectors are given a scrap of meat as a reward.

    In the UK, anyone who buys a drone could have to register the device and take a safety test, similar to a driving exam, before being able to use one, in a policy aimed at preventing potential collisions with passenger jets.

    Drone popularity has led to a spike in the number of near-misses with passenger jets, with dozens of such incidents occurring annually — evidently the days of civilian drones being able to freely fly the friendly skies are approaching over across the world. 

    Related:

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    Rise of Autonomous Military Drones Raises Number of Ethical and Legal Questions
    US Regulators Reviewing Options After Court Outlaws Drone Registration Rules
    Tags:
    policy guidelines, commercial drones, UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, civilians, military, technology, drones, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Pentagon, Europe, United States
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