United States

Pentagon says report that U.S. approved Chinese drone for purchase 'inaccurate'

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The Pentagon building is seen in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. October 9, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON, July 23 (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Friday that drones produced by Chinese manufacturer Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) pose a potential threat to national security and that a media report that they were approved for purchase by the U.S. government was inaccurate.

The Hill newspaper last month reported that a Pentagon audit had found two drones built by DJI for U.S. government use had "no malicious code or intent" and are "recommended for use by government entities and forces working with U.S. services."

"This report was inaccurate and uncoordinated, and its unauthorized release is currently under review by the department," the Defense Department said in a statement.

The Pentagon said it banned the use of all commercial off-the-shelf drones due to cybersecurity concerns in 2018. The following year, the U.S. Congress passed legislation banning the use of drones and components manufactured in China.

"This U.S. government report is the strongest confirmation to date of what we, and independent security validations, have been saying for years - DJI drones are safe and secure for government and enterprise operations," the company said in a statement. "DJI believes defining specific standards and requirements, regardless of a drone's country of origin, is the best way to ensure the security of drone data," it said.

The Defense Department said U.S. Special Operations Command has purchased off-the-shelf drone technology consistent with exemptions permitted under the law.

"Mitigating the threats posed by small UAS (unmanned aircraft systems), including DJI systems, remains a priority across the Department, and DOD (Defense of Defense) continues to ensure existing policy remains current and appropriately implemented," the Pentagon said.

Reporting by Eric Beech; additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Sandra Maler

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