Biden seeks broad authorization to track and destroy suspect drones

The Biden administration has asked Congress to dramatically increase the number of government and public agencies — from federal to local governments — that are legally authorized to identify, track, and disable potentially malicious drones flying in U.S. airspace.

This call for an increase in the number of public bodies and officials authorized to engage in trace and destroy activities against potentially hostile drones was part of a larger framework. National Action Plan for Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems the White House released on Monday. In it, the Biden administration calls on Congress to renew existing legislation legalizing anti-UAV action by “the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, as well as Central Intelligence Agency and NASA in limited situations”. It also calls for the enactment of new measures allowing local officials to take defensive action against drones they fear may not serve.

“The proposal also seeks to extend UAS detection authorities to state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) law enforcement agencies and critical infrastructure owners and operators,” the plan reads. “The proposal would also create a federally-sponsored pilot program for certain SLTT law enforcement participants to perform UAS mitigation activities and allow critical infrastructure owners and operators to purchase authorized equipment. for use by appropriate Federal Law Enforcement or SLTT agencies to protect their facilities. .”

The White House says the project is the first comprehensive initiative to prepare for and respond to the use of drones for illegal or destructive domestic purposes. While he notes that the vast majority of drones are used for positive and productive purposes, he adds that drones are increasingly being used “to commit crimes, conduct unlawful surveillance and industrial espionage, and thwart law enforcement efforts.”

These operations include depositing contraband in prisons, smuggling drugs and people across the southern border, and several other types of criminal acts – including one the FBI described as an attack on a Pennsylvania power plant. Elsewhere, similar consumer drones have also been deployed in assassination attempts in Venezuela and Iraq, used by terrorist groups across the Middle East and Mexican drug cartels to drop grenades on enemy gangs. .

More recently, the use of store-bought drones in Ukraine for widely considered legitimate defensive purposes against invading Russian troops – including dropping Molotov cocktails and ammunition – has drawn attention to how the gear can be adapted for conflict purposes. Indeed, some experts believe that the effectiveness of consumer drones in Ukraine against traditional military strategies and means is causing a fundamental re-examination of how future wars will be fought.

It may also influence how US authorities plan responses to the expanding deployment of malicious domestic drones. This increase seems inevitable as the current fleet of 800 drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration reaches a level valued 2 million by 2024.

This risk may well explain the White House’s desire to dramatically increase the number of national, state, local, and other public administrations capable of lawfully monitoring and acting against potentially hostile drones, and its call for Congress to “adopt legislation to close critical gaps in existing laws and policies that currently prevent government and law enforcement from protecting the American people and our vital security interests.

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