US government officials told Congress about potential threats posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at a hearing on 14 July 2022 according to a report by CNS News.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting assistant secretary for counter-terrorism Samantha Vinograd said “the threat posed by UAS is widespread across the country, and it is critical that our partners have the authority to help protect the homeland in addition to Transportation Security Agency (TSA) getting the authority to critically protect the transportation sector”.
According to CNS News Vinograd said that US Customs and Border Protection have detected more than 8,000 illegal cross-border drone flights at the southern border just since August 2021. And she said there have been 2000 sightings of drones in and around airports since 2021, with 64 aircraft, four of them commercial flights, having to take evasive actions.
Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said the threat posed by drones is “very significant…given the easy ability to buy a drone commercially.”
A government bill to authorise counter action against drone threats is due to expire in October 2022 if Congress doesn’t act. Both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee agreed on the need to “reauthorize and strengthen counter-UAS authorities,” as Committee Chair Gary Peters (D-Mich.) put it.
“If we do not act,” Peters said, “it could only be a matter of time before someone who is recklessly operating this technology causes an accident that can have catastrophic effects. And as we work to avoid unintentional disasters, we must also account for the escalating threat of weaponized drones from terrorist and criminal organizations who could launch domestic drone attacks on mass gatherings, high profile landmarks and buildings, or federal property.
“This includes foreign adversaries who have deployed drones in conflicts abroad and could have the capability to deploy them here in the United States as well. We must also be prepared to counter drones operated by criminal organizations that are reportedly using UAS for illegal activities including trafficking illicit drugs across our borders.”
The legislation under consideration would expand detection and mitigation technology to state and local authorities, including training activities.
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