EU police forces to employ anti-drone guns ‘illegal’ in the US

Dronegun tactical used by french task forces in front of the presidential platform during the Bastille day military parade. F [Shutterstock]

EU police forces are set to roll out Australian-made anti-drone weaponry in order to help eliminate national security threats. The same technology is prohibited by federal law in the United States.

Under a framework agreement contracted between DroneShield Limited and the EU, the DroneGun Tactical device will be ‘rolled out across a range of police units across the European Union,’ the company announced last week.

The firm’s CEO, Oleg Vornik, informed EURACTIV that the agreement had been made with Belgian police force, who ran a tender for the service on behalf of all EU national police authorities, as part of the joint EU procurement scheme.

DroneShield says that the agreement does not specify minimum purchase quantities of the gun, but that it hopes the contract could lead to further deals with EU police forces in the future for other products, including the company’s wearable drone detection device, RfPatrol.

However, the DroneGun Tactical device, based on a single rifle-style design, is prohibited by US federal law. A statement on DroneShield’s website addresses the lack of authorisation in the US.

“DroneGun Tactical has not been authorised as required by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, in the United States, other than to the United States government, its agencies, and its properly delegated representatives, until such authorization is obtained,” the statement said.

“The use of DroneGun Tactical in the United States by other persons or entities, including, in certain circumstances, state or local government agencies, is prohibited by federal law.”

The Federal Communications Commission has previously warned that devices intended for blocking, jamming, or interfering with authorised communications are illegal when used by an entity not holding federal authorisation. DroneShield’s CEO told Techcrunch in 2018 that it was unlikely his DroneGun device would ever obtain FCC authorisation for use in the states.

The device functions by emitting signals from a high-powered antenna that scrambles and subsequently disables a drone controller’s commands. The majority of drones attacked by the technology will abort their flight and attempt to make a safe landing.

Europol did not respond to EURACTIV’s request for comment on whether it had been involved in the agreement.

In July this year, new rules are set to come into force in the EU, aiming to create a single drone market in Europe with high safety standards. The new measures will require drone pilots to have received authorisation from a member state authority, thereby giving them permission to operate their drone across the EU.

In April, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) submitted an opinion to the European Commission on the use and control of drones in cities across the bloc, calling for a regulated approach on unmanned airspace, to mitigate air and ground risks.

“The rising number of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations in the European airspace poses safety, security and airspace integration issues,” the opinion stated.

“To ensure, on the one hand, safe UAS traffic management and, on the other hand, that unmanned aircraft can safely operate within the existing air traffic environment in a harmonised manner across the European airspace, there is a need to develop a robust regulatory framework.”

Included in EASA’s recommendation is the establishment of a Common Information Service for the exchange of data between unmanned airspace operators, which the organisation says will help operators “plan and execute their flights safely, knowing exactly where and when their drone is permitted to fly.”

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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