WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — U.S. officials told lawmakers Thursday that criminals and the country’s adversaries are using drones as weapons.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Federal Aviation Administration also talked about thwarted attacks.
“The threat posed by the malicious use of drones represents a significant and increasing risk to the homeland and the American people,” said Samantha Vinograd, a senior counselor for DHS.
“They can conduct cyber attacks against wireless devices or networks. And they can conduct espionage or trafficking narcotics and contraband,” added Brad Wiegmann of the DOJ. “In Feb. 2020 a subject was arrested and charged in connection with his efforts to use a drone to drop explosives near a Georgia mobile home park.”
The law that gives government agencies the authority to deal with these emerging threats expires in October. But officials say a simple reauthorization isn’t enough.
“There are significant gaps in our ability to protect the homeland,” Vinograd said.
DHS says more agencies, including local police agencies and the Transportation Security Administration need the power to engage against drone threats.
“This is especially concerning since TSA has reported nearly 2000 drone sightings since 2021,” Vinograd said.
Officials say in that same period that 65 aircraft took evasive actions to avoid drones, including four commercial flights.
Federal agencies say that if powers are expanded, they would take steps to ensure there is proper training for local agencies.