- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Pentagon has authorized secret rules of engagement for dealing with private and commercial drones found flying over or around any of 133 domestic military bases.

The classified guidelines were drafted in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration and issued last month over growing security concerns posed by publicly owned drones, or “unmanned aerial systems,” U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters at the Pentagon.

“Protecting our force remains a top priority, and that’s why DoD issued this very specific but classified policy, developed with the FAA and our inter-agency partners, that details how DoD personnel may counter the unmanned aircraft threat,” he said Monday, CNN reported.

“These specific guidelines for counter UAS actions in the homeland will remain classified, but, broadly speaking, they allow us to do a range of things,” including “incapacitating them or destroying them,” Capt. Davis said.

“We always have had the right of self-defense, but this I think makes it a little bit more solidified what we are able to do, and it’s been completely coordinated with the FAA,” he said of the new guidelines.

“The 2017 enacted National Defense Authorization Act gave the Departments of Defense and Energy authority to mitigate drones in specific environments and to coordinate with the FAA to safeguard the national airspace system,” the FAA said in a statement to CNN. “The FAA is in the process of coordinating with these agencies as the legislation requires.”

The military already has several options for downing drones, ranging from using traditional ammunition to obliterate unwanted aircrafts to relying on radio waves to commandeer them.

Intercepted drones “could also be seized as well as part of investigations,” Capt. Davis said.

The Pentagon and FCC announced a new rule in April prohibiting drone flights within 400 feet of 133 domestic installations and said that pilots caught violating the restriction would be subject to arrest. That announcement didn’t say anything about the military reserving the right to obliterate or intercept drones, however.

The Pentagon said the new policy applies to 133 military facilities, presumably the same ones listed in April’s announcement.

The number of small, hobbyist drones in operation will likely increase from about 1.1 million in 2016 to 3.55 million in 2021, the FAA predicted earlier this year. Commercial drones, meanwhile, are expected to grow tenfold during that same period to 442,000 in 2021, according to the report.

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