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The U.S. Air Force Wants Permission to Shoot Down Civilian Drones

The head of the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command wants permission to deal with civilian drones-including shooting them down-that threaten to interfere with flight operations. ( More...

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Sam Johnson 14
I'm all for it. How about allowing all of us, commercial, business, police, private etc. Being allowed to install some type of electronic device that will knock the drones down if they are close to our airplanes. I have been hearing about too many near misses due to drones in areas where they don't belong.
DaveRK 12
I hope I don't need my flame suit, it's at the cleaners. :)

I fly a UAV as a hobby, as much fun as my RC flying days and the video's are great to look at later. And yes even though no longer required, it is registered with the F.A.A.

99% of bad drone operations are done by people that are too stupid to know the difference.
The usual answer to these types of issues is "Make it illegal", folks you can't outlaw stupid!
You can outlaw stupid. Hitler did!
Mark Lansdell 1
That's true but "they" are still afforded protections that many of us are not.
Robert Fleming 19
How about the ability and/or permission to shoot down drones that interfere with FIREFIGHTING FLIGHT OPERATIONS? That would be good!
btweston 5
I think FIREFIGHTING FLIGHT OPERATIONS falls under the category of flight operations. So yes.
joel wiley 4
The article refers to military operations around their airfields. Firefighting operations are civilian operations away from the airports. ANG C130 MAFFS platforms are under civilian direction (and glad to see them).
Don't tell anyone, but I already have a device that will block the signal to the drone and I will use it if I see one over my property. This has become a safety as well as privacy issue and needs to be addressed swiftly and firmly otherwise it will become another "We should have thought about this before the tragedy occurred" problem.
I'm all for it. People just don't understand how not to interfere with military and or civilian flight operations.
Mark Lansdell 4
Yup. There are still idiots out there who aim laser at cockpits along final.
djames225 7
Ok I'm totally confused..."taking care of drones is a federal matter" and yet the Air Force is a federal run organization, so why the "asking"?...when the drones breach the security perimeter of a base, 1 would assume that you don't need to ask permission to make it permanently go away...if I climbed a fence at an installation and breached the security perimeter, no permission is needed to make me go away (and usually for a long time)
Mark Lansdell 0
Air space is a different matter. I think I can over fly an air force base. I can't over fly the White House . Both are federal facilities as is the FAA. Are you confused yet??
djames225 2
You can fly over an air force base but at a certain level and above, not the 39-300 ft of a get caught flying lower and usually a nice (or sometimes not) escort meets you..
Mark Lansdell 0
You missed my point.
djames225 2
No I got the point, just showing how confusing it is..."you can go here but not there but if you go here, you have to go there at a certain level and then you are ok to go there"
Mark Lansdell 2
I'll have to take more reading lessons.
Edward Miller 0
Deadly force is not authorized just for climbing the fence at a military installation unless you see a sign that says "Deadly Force is Authorized". Now if you get on the base and you head over to a secure area, you're going to see the sign and if you enter that area you might get to take the eternal dirt nap.
We had those DFA signs at my ANG base in Nashville.
I wonder if any civilian has ever been shot entering a secure area at a U.S. military base.
Thomas Mchugh 0
Years ago I was drilling at a AFB that housed a KC135 unit. One morning we were told to report to a building on the opposite side of the base from our usual building. Several of us headed the wrong direction and were heading in the direction of a hanger. We did meet some large APs with M-16s who politely told us to turn around, this was before 9/11 and we were all dressed in BDU's and had valid ID's and base passes.
djames225 0
I said nothing about deadly force...I said go away
AWAAlum 1
What you said is "you don't ned to ask permission to make it permanently go away". So then, what did you mean by that?
djames225 2
Capturing a drone makes it go away..we have done it up here with a small net cannon..the drones suffer some damage..the force isn't deadly and risks noone else being harmed..shooting at them, with a gun, is deadly force which can result in tragedy.
And nada was mentioned on the use of deadly force when I mentioned climbing the fence.
Mark Lansdell 0
I'm not positive but I think FAA made that illegal. Can't shoot um and ya can't capture em.
SoNic67 4
I don't understand why courts take the position that the drone operator rights are in front of my (privacy) rights.
I always thought that someone's freedom stops when it interferes with someone else freedom.
U R abs right. But principles are meant for classrooms, totally disconnected with reality ... IMHO
if you're dumb enough to fly anything over a base you should be shot down questions bullets needed they have jammers for the job
mike SUT 4
They've got my permission...
concur shoot em down
Ken Hardy 4
There goes the Amazon plan
Ed Blanchard 3
Limited thinking processes going on here in this forum. No, USAF would not use the GAU emitting 1800-3000 rounds per minute- that would be insane. Nor would they use air-to-air missles. Again, insane. There are other less collateral damage weapons to do the job.
Doug Zalud 2
In Syria, ISIS has already taken drone usage to the next level by arming them with grenades and small bombs and dropping them on troops and vehicles with great success.

The threat of making a $500 drone collide with a $30 million dollar aircraft is very real. Look at what birds can do to an aircraft.

These are the types of things that the military is thinking about. Currently, they are not allowed to do anything to protect themselves.
Mark Lansdell 2
Bomb dispersal 101. Almost like going back to WWI.
agree with Peter if he misses and hits something else or does damage who is going to pay for it.
Drones don't have ID beacons like aircraft. Can't tell foe from friend. Assume foe until proved otherwise. Capture or shoot down.
Mark Lansdell 1
Check FARS before you capture one. You might want to get rid of any evidence as Sheriff Justice Buford T Justice might say. Don't get caught with your hand in the jar.
Mike Howell 2
I flew my drone near a strong radio tower used by my employer and as soon as a transmission was sent, my drone landed itself faster than you could blink, like a controlled crash is more accurate.
I totally agree with this as well as shooting drones down that interfere with fire fighting flights. Had one to interfere with a firefighting plane this week in state of Washington. Video was on the evening news.
agndd09 2
In San Diego we have the military aircraft, fire fighting aircraft, GA and Commercial. People fly those stupid things everywhere, including causing the fire fighting aircraft to land and stop fighting fires until the drone is gone. Good Grief. Shoot them down. Fine with me
Blast 'em.

I know the hobbists love them, but they are a hazard to everything else in the sky.
Mark Lansdell 2
Problem for you is they're legal in the right place at the right altitudes. If you're using "Blast 'em in the American sense as opposed to the British sense you could easily find yourself detained in the legal sense.
Considering short flight time duration capabilities of such drones, advisable would be to "capture" the defaulting drone for analysis on lines akin to detaining a suspected spy
Daniel Hughes 1
Bases like Fort hood sell dones in the post exchange. But it is policy that you can not fly drones around and near the base for security reasons. What they don't want is layout information and information about equipment being used to be collected by unauthorized personal. The idea of shooting one done is a start but ultimately ineffective. As it was previously stated people would turn it into a game. Also as it was previously stated wasting the ammunition for that. I don't know how it works with the air force when it comes to ammunition but in the army rounds have to be accounted for, not to mention as was also stated where would the spent projectiles land.
Trying to guard a base or facility against drones using something that won't disrupt frequencies is not going to work. You would have to like some one said have a frequency scanner to send pulses' of disruptive frequencies to stop all transmissions and flight of the drone.
becca dines 1
Give it to them (permission that is) But then the next wave of "Gamers" will start a new competition to see who can get the most drones shot down by the military making the whole thing pointless and even more dangerous...probably.
Chris B 1
Too small to shoot down.
Mark Lansdell 1
Stop thinking bullets
A Frank 1
Wait until we have a rotor Strike from a UAV--- close call above Billerica MA above a RC Club at 900FT agl October 2016 I won't forget that one.
I, as a commercial pilot, hope that the US Air Force's Permission will be granted. Drones should under no circumstances be allowed to share the same air space as airplanes with people in it.
Jay Deet 1
Battelle’s DroneDefender anti-drone beam gun grounds UAVs :: It fires RADIO WAVES to interfere with the drone operator's signals.
Zison 1
As an aircraft pilot I do consider dr ones, often in the hands of stride, a real danger due to collision possibility.
Mea while, to protect my privacy, have at hand a nice .10 ga shotgun: you dld see how dr ones pile up!
Am therefore together with US AF Pilots.
patrick baker 1
I stand corrected and informed. thanxs
Geez, do you commenters really think it's reasonable to "shoot" anything at a drone? Whether the bullets are shot upward or downward at the drone they WILL come down somewhere, potentially on someone. What's more dangerous, a drone flying around or a 20mm slug from a full-sized aircraft landing somewhere on the earth? An aircraft striking a drone isn't any more hazardous than striking a goose or other big bird (and how often does that happen).

The only safe and sane method for countering drones is shown at this link:

Take care, and don't let those pesky drones sneak up on your Cessna.
That's a great video; what a great shot!

Although, one still needs to give consideration to the potential harm to people underneath the flight path of the now wrecked and falling drone. I was cringing as I wondered if a fan in a forward row might've stood up bloodied after getting struck by the falling drone. But, it seems it wasn't directly above anyone. *Whew* If someone was hurt, the TP-roll thrower might share liability with the pilot in a civil action.
Peter Clark 1
Stop and use your heads. Where do you believe the bullets will fall as they zoom beyond the drones?
There are many times more birds in the air than there are drones. The chance is minimal a drone will bring down an aircraft.
AWAAlum 3
Unless, of course, that's its intent. Which, in today's climate, probably isn't so far-fetched.
djames225 1
I agree with you Peter about the bullets
patrick baker 1
what could possible go wrong with authorizing the air force to gun down recalcitrant drones within American airspace. Think about that a bit. The drones are not so easy targets, the air force weapons( think cannons) is classic overkill, and every once in a while, the air force will miss the drone and somewhere on earth, western hemisphere, the ordinance will strike something other than the drone. Think about The United State Airforce Counter Drone Command. coming soon....
ToddBaldwin3 8
I think your vision of the United State Airforce Counter Drone Command is called the Rod and Gun Club present on almost every base. Brings a new challenge to the skeet course. Pull!
Torsten Hoff 7
You are assuming a tiny consumer drone will be shot down with a missile or on-board cannon.

The Air Force has been testing laser weapons on Apache helicopters (see They have also been testing ground-based anti-drone systems. That's a much more surgical way to take out a drone without causing much (if any) collateral damage.

But the Air Force needs permission to deploy and operate such systems outside of test ranges.
canuck44 4
Correct...ultimately we will see airports and approaches guarded by either lasers or some type of electronic pulsing to take out the guidance system of the drone. Both if ground based should have no collateral scatter endangering populations except for a falling drone.
joel wiley 3
And then there is the Drone Defender, not legal for civilian purchase... yet.

Beats .223, 30 cal or hellfire drone eliminators for local urban use.

Now, if they can also interdict the operators....
Mark Lansdell 2
Maybe that's what the AF is asking for??
Lee Ensminger 3
I agree. What COULD possibly go wrong? <sarcasm> Look up the Battle of Palmdale to learn what could happen if the USAF goes weapons free on drones. And people talking about using high-powered rifles should remember that what goes up must come down. A miss, or a hit on anything other than the battery, which is the only real mass on a drone, means a bullet is coming down randomly someplace. That's not safe practice for firearms. Now if you want to use a shotgun with #6 shot, that could be more effective and less dangerous.
jagerardi 1

Take those little POS' down, and now.

pilot0987 1
Seems they would have to increase the surveillance on America to be able to locate and shoot down a drone within their twenty minute flight time.
Mark Hargis 0
Shoot them Dow? With what? Bullets? That fire at 3000 rounds a minute. Where are all the bullets gonna fall? A stupid, retarded idea.
Mark Lansdell 0
From whom do "they" need permission? If it takes an act of Congress then "they" should probably get started authoring legislation. If the need the OK of the FAA, I'm not sure how the negotiate that but I'm sure the military knows how and by whom. Electronic jamming is probably the answer rather than a projectile, teamed up with legal prohibitions to over flying and loitering within the boundaries of the bases and making the owner and pilot of the drones responsible and liable for any trespass.
Wally Kohl 0
If a 172 violates federal airspace you would take if down. That had s human pilot in it. Do why are we worried about a UNMANNED VEHICLE that is in the incorrect airspace. I guess we need to wait until a UAV kills someone or takes down a commercial airliner.
Mark Lansdell 1
That's an entirely different situation than interfering with military flight operations
What is the difference..???? A plane with a pilot and another vehicle without a pilot. They can both kill someone. What are we trying to protect here ? Life or property? Because we are not protecting intelligence!!!! You can find out any information on the internet...,
Mark Lansdell 1
The article referred to flying a drone so as to interrupt military flight operations whether it's for practice landings and take offs or practicing precision maneuvers. Manned aircraft and drones don't belong to interfere.
Mark Lansdell 1
"They" don't normally "take down" a manned 172 for wandering into federal airspace.
mefree591 0
To fly a drone, an RF up link and down link between the controller and the drone. A device can be made to scan the allocated frequencies. Because the drone is close to to you, the down link to the controller can be detected and jammed, and the device could locate and jam the weaker up link. Detect, of Panama City, Fl, already has designed devices to do this, ie: to prevent drones from carrying drugs into prisons.
Torsten Hoff 1
The drones typically use the unregulated 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz spectrum, which are also used by Wifi, cordless phones, handheld radios and more. Jamming it has the potential to interfere with other legitimate uses and run afoul of the FCC.
Wayne Altman -3
During hunting season if a drone comes near my deer stand it will get a .308 cal.slug.
AWAAlum 6
In that case, I'm rooting for the drone.
Mark Lansdell 3
Put your AR10 away. You're liable to miss and lob a bullet into me.
Mike Howell 2
Wow super impressive , do you drag your concubine around by her hair?
I think this article used crude, imprecise language to paint the situation in the most dramatic light possible, perhaps thereby skewing the true nature of what the AF was requesting (god, I hope so--but such is our media today).

"Shoot down" with "weapons" gives me a mental image (as if directed by Michael Bay) that seems quite unlike what the AF would actually be doing.

In my opinion, clearly the AF should not be granted permission to use military weapons (e.g. kinetic/explosive systems) to "shoot down" civilian drones inside civilian airspace, or even military airspace above a base. Directed fire is not sufficiently accurate or reliable to ensure containment to the immediate area of the target. Someone totally innocent on the ground or in the air would eventually get hurt and uninvolved property damaged or destroyed.

In this case, it appears what the AF wants to do is use ECM against the problem drones. Civilian drones use well defined and known radio systems to permit control by their operators. Breaking or co-opting that link with a special transmitter to cause the drone to stop flying or come away from the control of its offending operator is the goal (I gather). In so doing, you remove the threat from the drone safely and without bringing the general public under threat from misdirected military firepower.

It's not clear from this article whether the AF did the typical bureaucrat move of asking for way more authority than it truly was prepared to use, just to have it, and actually wanted authority to use traditional kinetic firepower against what are, plainly, sophisticated toys piloted by the curious, the thrill-seeking, or the silly-persons.

All this talk about ISIS dropping mortars and IEDs. Come on! Maybe that is happening (no one ever provides actual traceable evidence of such stuff, but loves to grandstand and tell a great story), but if so, those remotely-piloted vehicles are certainly not of the typical sort you'd find in the hobbyist community. Payload weight is a strict limitation. Mortars and hand grenades (anyway) are too heavy.

For the sake of proper civilian defense, you never want the military to begin to feel that the home soil beyond the perimeter fence of their bases is tantamount to enemy territory. They may have legitimate right to exclude your presence from within or to a limited extent above their base, but this cannot extend to waging combat on the home soil.

Such is the way many law enforcement agencies (formerly known as "police") have evolved in the USA that a fun game which bystanders may play is: "Cop or Soldier?" The rules of engagement are very different for each. Sometimes the cops don't realize they are operating like soldiers, and the consequences for the general public are chronic as well as acute. The mentality of one with a badge to begin to see everyone else without a badge as a likely enemy is corrosive.

The military is tasked with the job of defending the nation's territorial integrity, not themselves exclusively. On home soil, absent a time of war inside that area, we permit them to do war-like things only as needed for training, and only in carefully defined places and in ways aimed to preserve and protect the "bodily integrity" of the general public who paid them to provide that defense. Anything else is an absurdity.
Doug Zalud 1
I agree with what you are saying in regards to the military language being misinterpreted, but disagree with what you say about the drones. This all harkens back to WWI and what the pilots began doing.

I offer the following in regards to the use of armed drones.
Doug Zalud 1
Also to add this one:

From Popular Mechanics:

Based off a report originally from:

Sorry to report the two links above (in reference to the Pop. Mech. story) got mangled and are broken but if they're fixed, I'm still interested.
Doug Zalud 1
Here are the full links. I hope that they repopulate on here.
Steven Simons -2
Why not just put anything that fly's over ones house within 500 feet c an be shot down?
AWAAlum 3
So long pretty Cardinals. So long sparrows ... so long robins...
Mike Howell -1
Adios buzzards, sianara crows....
AWAAlum 1
Mike, dude! - 3 languages in just 4 words. (Oh yeah, and it's "sayonara".)

P.S. Buzzards and crows perform important work.
Mike Howell 1
Oh , I don't think I've ever written the word before, now I know! I know they perform important work, they clean up all the animals I run over with my freight train. And before you say it, I really hate doing it, I even ran over a horse before :-(
Mike Howell 1
I just read my own post. Terrible grammar. I'm so embarrassed :-(


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