The cost of the Pentagon drone is “8 to 14 times more expensive” than the banned Chinese craft
According to an internal US government memo read by the British Financial Times, the camera drones developed by the Pentagon are more expensive and less functional than the Chinese-made drones they intend to replace.
The memo from the Ministry of the Interior officials warned that the so-called “blue drones” were not enough to carry out important protection work.
The Pentagon has spent more than 13 million U.S. dollars to develop drones that government agencies can use to replace drones manufactured or assembled in China. But complaints about its cost and effectiveness show that in the absence of obvious American alternatives, the United States is trying to get rid of the difficulties faced by Chinese technology.
The memo written by the staff for the incoming Biden administration in January said: “By only owning the’blue drone’ [unmanned aerial systems]’Approved, it reduces the DoI sensor function by 95%. .. This plane is designed for a very special Ministry of Defense [Department of Defense] Task settings, and can only meet about 20% of the DoI task requirements. “
It went on to warn that the average cost of these drones was US$2,100, which was 8 to 14 times that of aircraft that the department was able to purchase before.
In 2019, the Trump administration Ground each Among the 810 drones in this department, because they all contain Chinese parts.
The move is part of a broader effort to limit US access to sensitive technology, including 5G equipment made by the Chinese company Huawei, because of concerns that Beijing may use such hardware for espionage.
Since the 2019 order, department officials have been able to resume drone flights to control combustion to prevent wildfires, but cannot purchase any new aircraft or initiate flights for other tasks such as tracking wild animals.
At the same time, members of Congress are debating measures to prohibit federal funds from being used to purchase drones manufactured or assembled in China.
The Pentagon has spent years and millions of dollars working with private companies to develop five drones, which it says can be safely used by government agencies.
But according to one Department of Defense report Last year, at least four of them still contained a large number of Chinese parts, including circuit boards.
A government official said that the Biden administration is reviewing its entire civilian drone fleet to determine which aircraft can fly safely, but so far has not cancelled the Trump-era grounding order.
The Ministry of the Interior declined to comment.
Andrew Mousto, deputy director of the Defense Innovation Department of the Pentagon’s UAV development department, said: “These systems… inherit some of the Department of Defense-focused capabilities that have associated cost implications. DIU recognizes these five. The system is just the first step in the rapid adoption of commercial drone technology to the government.”
He added that the Department of Defense is trying to reduce costs and increase the capabilities of the drones it helped develop to meet the needs of other departments.
Although officials debated the safety of the government’s existing drones, DoI’s internal memo warned that the protections required by the law have not been carried out.
“The current situation makes it almost impossible for the department to comply with legislation such as the John Dingle Jr. Protection, Management and Entertainment Act,” it said. Among other things, the bill requires the mapping and protection of large tracts of public land.