Two United States (US) Senators have proposed a bill that would prohibit the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from using drones built by potentially hostile countries.
Senators Marsha Blackburn (a Republican from Tennessee) and Mark Warner (a Democrat from Virginia) introduced the Stemming The Operation of Pernicious and Illicit (STOP Illicit) Drones Act on June 8, 2023. Both Senators are members of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, with Warner being the committee Chairman.
If passed, the bill would prohibit the FAA from giving federal funds to certain drone companies, with the agency being unable to direct funds through several programs to manufacturers based in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba. Furthermore, the STOP Illicit Act would ban the FAA from procuring or operating drones built in those same countries.
However, the bill does exempt cases when using drones for “detection or counter-UAS testing and warfare analysis and operations”.
The FAA would have to replace any foreign-made drones with US or ally-built drones within a year, while also submitting a report to Congress on how many drones could violate the act. Furthermore, the FAA would have to report the changes it made to its procurement and contracting process in order to avoid violating the act.
“Drones have the potential to transform key industries and aspects of our society – from agriculture, to emergency services, to deliveries, and so much more,” said Warner, adding that with the growth of the number of drones used in various sectors, “we need to make sure that we are not advancing the goals of our adversaries, who wish to saturate the market with drones that pose a threat to our national security.”
Blackburn added that with “the New Axis of Evil” looking for every chance to take advantage of the US, “we cannot leave our critical technologies sector open to vulnerabilities”.
“The STOP Illicit Drones Act helps curb the importation of drones produced by our adversaries, keeping our nation safer and encouraging manufacturing here at home,” she concluded.