The U.S. Army ordered units to halt the use of DJI drones, it was revealed last week, but officials still won't say why it banned the company's products. DJI told International Business Times it reached out to officials about the direction to discontinue the use of its drones, but the U.S. army did not respond to them. "The US Army has not explained why it suddenly banned the use of DJI drones and components, what'cyber vulnerabilities' it is concerned about, or whether it has also excluded drones made by other manufacturers," DJI said. In a letter obtained by sUAS News, the U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy found there were operational risks associated with DJI products. The memo cited a classified report, "DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities," and a U.S. Navy memo, "Operational Risks with Regards to DJI Family of Products."
According to a memo obtained by sUAS News, the US Army will stop using DJI drones, effective immediately. "Due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products, it is directed that the US Army halt use of all DJI products," said the memo, which listed flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations and any device with DJI software applications installed on it as products that must cease being used. According to the document, the Army Aviation Engineering Directorate has issued over 300 Airworthiness Releases for DJI products. "Cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction," the memo continued. The memo cites a report from the Army Research Laboratory and a memo from the US Navy, both compiled in May, that reference operational risks and vulnerabilities with DJI products.
A drone flies May 11, 2017, in the showroom of the DJI headquarters in Shenzhen, China. A Chinese company that is the world's largest drone manufacturer said Friday it is "surprised and disappointed" by reports the U.S. Army has halted use of its remote-controlled aircraft because of cyber vulnerabilities. An Army memo Wednesday, obtained by sUASnews.com The memo from Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the deputy chief of staff, cited possible threats from any DJI electrical components, software, cameras, radios, GPS units or handheld controllers, the publications reported. It ordered U.S. Army personnel to uninstall all DJI applications and remove all batteries and media storage devices.
The US Army has increasingly used small consumer drones in the field, purchasing them as needed from consumer manufacturers like the well-known Chinese maker DJI. But documents indicate that the Army Aviation Directorate is now enforcing new orders, banning DJI drones "due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products." The documents, first obtained by Small UAS News, don't explain the Army's security concern, but refer to classified studies about DJI drones that first went out at the end of May. Previously, hackers have been able to jailbreak some DJI drones to control and modify things like safety features on the devices. Some reports have also indicated that DJI can gather location, audio, and even visual data from user flights.
The U.S. army just kicked one of the biggest drone makers on the planet out of its barracks, all in the name of security. The maker of the drones in question: China's DJI (also known as SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd.). An Aug. 2 U.S. Army memo obtained by sUAS News and later verified by Reuters advises that all service members "cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media and secure equipment for follow-on direction." Later, the memo gets more specific, stating, "Due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI product, it is directed that the U.S. Army halt use of all DJI products." The advisory covers all DJI-associated hardware and software.