More reports on: Defence general

US Army bans Chinese-made drones over 'cyber vulnerabilities'

05 August 2017

The US has banned Chinese-made drones that may have been used by US service members in Syria, according to a report.

"Cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction," reads the memo from Lt Gen Joseph H Anderson, the army's deputy chief of staff for plans and operations. The said memo was obtained by the publication Defense One, which added, it was also confirmed by two army officials.

The publication said the army document cited "increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products."

The publication also quoted Brett Velicovich, whom it described as a former army intelligence soldier, indicating that the army's comments "could have a huge impact on DJI."

Velicovich who now runs a Virginia-based consumer drone firm, Expert Drones, told the publication, "There are US special operators in Syria using DJI products."

The Army memo dated 2 August, was published online first by UAS News.

In addition to Syria, CNBC also found evidence that DJI-made drones were used in other areas of the military.

For instance a document on the Defence Department's website indicated that DJI Phantom drones were used during operations or exercises by the US Army Corps of Engineers, including for flooding and sometimes at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, DJI said in a statement that it was "surprised and disappointed" at the army's "unprompted restriction on DJI drones as we were not consulted during their decision."

According to the privately held company, it would contact the army to determine what it meant by "cyber vulnerabilities" and was willing to work with the Pentagon to address concerns.

According to analysts at Goldman Sachs and Oppenheimer, in 2016 DJI had about 70 per cent share of the global commercial and consumer drone market.

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