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US Army Puts An End To Using Drones Made By Military Rival On The Battlefield

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S. Army has banned the use of Chinese-made drones due to growing cyber concerns.

The U.S. Army sent out a memo ordering military personnel to discontinue the use of drones made by SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd., a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology, according to sUAS News, which acquired the memo Friday. Army personnel will also uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment.

The memo has been released, but the decision is still under review.

While China and the U.S. have a working relationship, the two countries are rivals with strategic interests that are often in conflict, and Chinese companies have a long history of questionable behavior when it comes to the defense supply chains for other countries.

“DJI Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) products are the most widely used non-program of record commercial off-the-shelf UAS employed by the Army,” the Army’s memo introduced.

“Due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products, it is directed that the U.S. Army halt use of all DJI products,” the memo explained. “This guidance applies to all DJI UAS and any system that employs DJI electrical components or software including, but not limited to, flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations, or devices with DJI software applications installed.”

DJI unmanned aerial systems are used by U.S. special operators in Syria.

“We are surprised and disappointed to read reports of the U.S. Army’s unprompted restriction on DJI drones as we were not consulted during their decision,” a DJI spokesman said, according to UPI. “We are happy to work directly with any organization, including the U.S. Army, that has concerns about our management of cyber issues.”

We’ll be reaching out to the U.S. Army to confirm the memo and to understand what is specifically meant by “‘cyber vulnerabilities,'” he added.

DJI, which is based in Shenzhen, had about 70 percent share of the international commercial and consumer drone market, Goldman Sachs and Oppenheimer revealed last year, according to the People’s Daily, a Chinese state-run media outlet. DJI’s drones have largely eliminated their competition in the expanding global drone market, which is worth billions of dollars.

Government agencies have reportedly been concerned about DJI for some time now, questioning what information may be shared unwittingly with the Chinese government, which is eager to build up its own military force to loosen America’s hold on global power.

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