Department of Interior to Use U.S. Manufactured Drones

After the fleet of U.S. Department of Interior drones was downed earlier this year in

Department of Interior Drones

After the fleet of U.S. Department of Interior drones was downed earlier this year in response to concerns about Chinese-manufactured drone platforms, the DOI has not flown except for emergency response.  (See our 2 part coverage of the U.S. ban on Chinese drones, here and here.)   As the party responsible for managing U.S. public lands and land resources, Department of the Interior drones can offer major efficiencies for taxpayers: now, the DOI is moving towards developing a new fleet.

Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt sent a memo to Department leadership specifying that leadership may purchase approved U.S. manufactured solutions. “The memo outlines clearance to buy American-made small unmanned aircraft systems (referred to as Blue sUAS), where there are needs to do so in the field for fighting wildland fires, conducting search and rescue operations, completing training exercises and more,” says a DOI release. “Not only will this better enable the Department of the Interior to executive critical missions, it will strengthen America’s national security in alignment with the President’s Executive Order to Buy American and Hire American.”

“In January, Secretary Bernhardt signed Secretary’s Order 3379 requiring the temporary cessation of non-emergency unmanned aircraft systems fleet operations. While drones are important to critical Interior missions, the Department needed to ensure the technology used for these operations is such that it would not compromise our national security interests. For drones that are not on the Department of Defense’s approved list, operations continue in emergency situations and other approved purposes per the Secretary’s Order, such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue and dealing with natural disasters that may threaten life or property.”

An image of the memo is attached below.

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