In the News
Panama City News Herald
May 08 2017
Rep. Neal Dunn is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation that clarifies the military’s authority to put a stop to drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), should they pose a threat to bases or military assets.
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — Rogue drones flying over could be a problem for the military, and it’s one to which Rep. Neal Dunn is looking to put a stop.
Dunn is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation that clarifies the military’s authority to put a stop to drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), should they pose a threat to bases or military assets.
The legislation, known as the “Military Assets Protection Act” and also sponsored by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, would allow the armed forces and Department of Defense (DoD) contractors to take a number of defensive actions against UAVs, including disrupting, controlling and destroying them.
“It gives them the authority to interdict drones,” said Dunn, R-Panama City. “We don’t want to wait until it becomes a big threat.”
The military can stop UAVs either violently or non-violently under the legislation. Drones can be returned if it’s determined the owner meant no harm, Dunn said.
Though Dunn called the problem unusual and unanticipated, he said similar methods are used against American allies in the Middle East. And after meeting with officials from Continental U.S. NORAD Region-First Air Force Air Forces Northern (CONR-1AF AFNORTH), a tenant unit at Tyndall Air Force Base, Dunn said he wanted to put a stop to drone attacks before they ever occur here.
Smaller, nontraditional aerial technologies such as UAVs do pose a challenge for maintaining the safety of the skies, CONR-1AF AFNORTH said in a statement.
“The Continental U.S. NORAD Region, with a specific mission to defend the skies over the continental United States, works very closely with other federal agencies, as well as well as state and local agencies, to determine the appropriate measures to counter these emerging technologies,” CONR-1AF AFNORTH wrote. “As a matter of policy, Continental U.S. NORAD Region - First Air Force (Air Forces Northern) does not comment on proposed legislation or comments by public officials.”
The threat from drones looms as Dunn said he’s been told there are more drone aircraft being flown in America than conventional aircraft.
A January news release by the Federal Aviation Administration also speaks to the widespread use of drones nowadays.
“Nearly 300,000 owners have registered their small unmanned aircraft in the first 30 days after the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) online registration system went live,” the FAA reported.
The legislation is currently being marked up by the House Armed Services Committee to become a part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, Dunn said.