Unauthorized drones are buzzing a Washington, D.C. military base twice a day, study finds

Key Points
  • Dedrone and the U.S. Department of Defense found that unauthorized drones are flying twice daily, on average, over Fort McNair in Washington D.C.
  • Offending pilots mostly flew drones made by industry leaders DJI.
  • The FAA restricted drone operations over 133 U.S. military bases as of April 2017.
Dedrone systems detect unauthorized drones in the sky, including drones used for gun smuggling.

Unauthorized drones are flying an average of twice a day above critical military infrastructure just 4 miles from the White House, according to new study from drone-detection start-up Dedrone and the Department of Defense.

"This is a concerning rate," Dedrone CEO Jorg Lamprecht told CNBC, "especially in light of international incidents where drones have crashed into other aircraft, and been used by terrorists, and used in other illicit activities."

In one recent example, the Islamic State used a small drone to bomb an ammunition dump at a stadium in Syria, setting off a chain of explosions. And this September, a civilian drone crashed into a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter.

This camera is built to detect and take down drones

To conduct their study, Dedrone and personnel from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall installed drone detection systems on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair. The systems picked up on 52 unwanted drone flights over 26 days during the late summer and early fall.

Offending pilots used several different drone models from DJI, the industry leader in drone hardware, and a 3DR Solo drone.

At Fort Myer, another base in D.C., Dedrone's systems detected 43 unauthorized flights over 30 days in September, perpetrated by pilots of DJI and Parrot drones.

The Trump administration recently touted FAA regulations that may make it easier for companies developing drones or drone-based services to test these in the U.S. However, the FAA tightly restricted drone operations over 133 U.S. military bases as of April 2017.

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