The Pentagon approved two drone models made by China’s Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) for government use in a May 6 report obtained by The Hill.
In the unclassified section of the report, the Pentagon determined there was “no malicious code or intent” in two models of DJI drones used by the United States government, The Hill reported Tuesday.
“(These models are) recommended for use by government entities and forces working with US services,” the summary said.
The rest of the report, authored by second chief warrant officer with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Adam Prater, remained classified, according to the story.
DJI is the largest maker of drones in China and a leader in drone technology and sales throughout the world, according to the company.
Based in Shenzhen, China, the company said it benefits from direct access to suppliers, raw materials and a “young, creative talent pool,” to design and build the drones.
The report comes after the company’s drones were blacklisted along with other Chinese companies last December, Reuters reported at the time.
Four of the companies, including DJI, were placed on the U.S. Commerce Department list for “enabled wide-scale human rights abuses within China through abusive genetic collection and analysis or high-technology surveillance,” according to the report.
The department also claimed the companies “facilitated the export of items by China that aid repressive regimes around the world, contrary to U.S. foreign policy interests.”
In January 2020, the U.S. Department of the Interior grounded its fleet of about 800 drones, 500 of which were made by DJI, and stopped purchasing them from the Chinese company, according to the report.
At the time, The Hill reported that then Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s order grounding the drones included “non-emergency” unmanned aerial systems, giving an exception to those used to fight wildfires and those used in search and rescue missions.
“Drones are important to critical Department of the Interior missions, such as combating wildfires and conducting life-saving search and rescue operations; however, we must ensure that the technology used for these operations is such that it will not compromise our national security interests,” a spokesman for the agency said in the story.
At the same time, a group of Republican senators led by Ted Cruz, R-Texas., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote a letter to both the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration expressing their concerns about national security issues using the drones.
In another article from The Hill in June of last year, a government study reported that no data from drones used by the U.S. Government had been transferred to China.
“That’s the allegation that we've seen the past two years or more repeated by policymakers and in some cases our competitors as a reason to enact policy that would take away the ability to choose which products to use in a mission,” Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy, told The Hill at the time. “None of those have been accompanied by evidence or analysis demonstrating that there's a factual basis behind the allegation.”
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