Pentagon says report that US approved Chinese drone for purchase is 'inaccurate'

A 2018 photo shows US and Chinese flags at the US Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
A 2018 photo shows US and Chinese flags at the US Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Pentagon said on Friday (July 23) that drones produced by Chinese manufacturer Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) pose a potential threat to national security and that a media report that they were approved for purchase by the US government was inaccurate.

The Hill newspaper last month reported that a Pentagon audit had found two drones built by DJI for US government use had "no malicious code or intent" and are "recommended for use by government entities and forces working with US services."

"This report was inaccurate and uncoordinated, and its unauthorised release is currently under review by the department," the Defence Department said in a statement.

The Pentagon said it banned the use of all commercial off-the-shelf drones due to cybersecurity concerns in 2018.

The following year, Congress passed legislation banning the use of drones and components manufactured in China.

“This US government report is the strongest confirmation to date of what we, and independent security validations, have been saying for years – DJI drones are safe and secure for government and enterprise operations,” the company said in a statement.

“DJI believes defining specific standards and requirements, regardless of a drone’s country of origin, is the best way to ensure the security of drone data,” it said.

The Defence Department said US Special Operations Command has purchased off-the-shelf drone technology consistent with exemptions permitted under the law.

"Mitigating the threats posed by small UAS (unmanned aircraft systems), including DJI systems, remains a priority across the Department, and DOD (Department of Defence) continues to ensure existing policy remains current and appropriately implemented," the Pentagon said.