National security concerns related to drones range from illicit intelligence gathering to smuggling drugs and guns over the border or into prisons, to attacks like those conducted by terrorist groups. However, currently, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) counter technology (or counter-UAS) legal authority is limited.

Only the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) have the authority to enforce flight restrictions by taking direct action against drones. To address this limited authority, a Senate bill was introduced that supports the expansion of this authority of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That bill would mean that the FBI, Secret Service, Coast Guard and Customs and Borders Protection, as well as several others, to use counter-UAS technology against malicious drones. This bill has yet to be promulgated into law. We continue to monitor it and other counter-UAS legislation.

However, it isn’t only the legal challenges that present a problem for counter-UAS technology, but technical limitations as well. Current counter-UAS technologies were developed for military applications for the most part, which means that they rely on imprecise modes of interference (e.g., radiofrequency jamming). These technologies may not be entirely safe for domestic facilities, and the remote signals that much of this technology relies on could interfere with manned aircrafts or lawful drone operations.

In order to better counter-UAS technology, the regulatory landscape will likely change to allow for those stakeholders in the industry to test more technologies and expand federal authority to identify, track and counteract criminal drone activity.