UPDATE 1-Pentagon OKs five U.S.-made drones as alternative to China systems

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WASHINGTON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department on Thursday said five U.S.-manufactured drones have been approved for purchase by the federal government starting in September, offering agencies a secure option after the use of China-made drones was banned.

The five companies whose drones will be available are Altavian, Parrot SA, Skydio, Teal and Vantage Robotics, the department said in a statement.

The drones comply with a law that prohibits the U.S. military from buying Chinese-made unmanned aircraft systems, it added.

“We need an alternative to Chinese-made small drones,” Mike Brown, director of the department’s Defense Innovation Unit, said in the statement. Approving the five companies’ products “enhances the long-term viability of this capability for the U.S. and our allies.”

The Trump administration has raised concerns about the potential for drones used by U.S. government being compromised by Beijing for spying.

China’s SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, the world’s largest commercial drone maker, said in January there was a lack of credible evidence to support a broad country of origin restriction on drone technology.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Susan Heavey Editing by Nick Zieminski