WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Thursday applauded the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee for including his provision banning the use of Chinese-made unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The provision was included as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill approved on Thursday by the Committee. Murphy worked with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to include it in the NDAA. Last year, despite repeated warnings that Da Jiang Innovations (DJI), the Chinese-based leading global manufacturer of commercial drones, may be providing sensitive data to the China, the DoD still continued to purchase and operate DJI drones.
“Last year, a Connecticut company reached out to me with national security concerns about our government using Chinese-made drones. I quickly investigated and discovered that the Department of Defense continued to purchase and operate drones from DJI despite warnings that they posed a threat. I immediately reached out to Secretary of Defense and was relieved that he heeded my call, but we need to take further action to protect our country. Congress needs to ban the use of all Chinese-made drones by Department of Defense and instead only spend taxpayer money on U.S. drone manufacturers and foster the development of a U.S.-based supply chain. This committee vote helps protect our troops and our national security, while also supporting U.S. manufacturing jobs,” said Murphy.
Last year, after hearing concerns from a Connecticut-based drone manufacturer, Murphy called on then-U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to ban Chinese-made commercial drones at the DoD and instead support U.S. drone manufacturers. DoD followed Murphy’s call and halted the purchase of all small commercial drones, including those made by Da Jiang Innovations. Additionally, Murphy secured more transparency and critical protections for American companies against foreign-made drones in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2019. This was critical for national security and a “Buy American” victory for Connecticut-based companies that have to compete with artificially priced Chinese-made drones.