Pentagon report clears use of drones made by top Chinese manufacturer

Two drone models made by China’s largest manufacturer have been cleared for use by a Pentagon audit, according to a report summary obtained by The Hill.

An analysis of the two Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) drones built for government use found “no malicious code or intent” and are “recommended for use by government entities and forces working with US services,” the summary said.

The remainder of the report, dated May 6, remains classified. The report’s author, second chief warrant officer with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Adam Prater, declined to publicly comment on the summary.


The Defense Department did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill.

The report appears to analyze changes made to two drones used by the Interior Department.

The agency temporarily grounded its fleet of more than 500 DJI drones in January 2020 over cybersecurity concerns, with some exceptions for emergency use. The Interior Department in March made it easier for a drone mission to qualify as an emergency.

The Pentagon findings follow allegations of data sharing with the Chinese government lobbed against DJI by lawmakers such as Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawChuck Todd reluctant to 'ban' election deniers from 'Meet the Press' Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military The hypocrisy of weeding out identity politics in the military MORE (R-Texas) and GOP Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate panel delays Iraq war powers repeal | Study IDs Fort Hood as least-safe base for female soldiers | Pentagon loosens some COVID-19 restrictions Senate panel delays war authorization repeal after GOP push Eliminate family and child poverty: Richard Nixon may help in today's debate MORE (Fla.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Fauci on Blackburn video: 'No idea what she is talking about' Pentagon report clears use of drones made by top Chinese manufacturer MORE (Tenn.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSenate Republicans: Newly proposed ATF rules could pave way for national gun registry Jon Stewart shows late-night conformity cabal how political comedy is done The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (Ark.), Rick Scott (Fla.) and John CornynJohn CornynProgressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die MORE (Texas).

The company has maintained that no data is transferred from its products to either the Chinese Communist Party or the company itself.


An analysis by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton released last June found no evidence that DJI drones previously used by the U.S. government have made those kinds of transfers.

The Pentagon report may provide fuel for DJI’s efforts to restore government use of its drones, even if it only analyzed two of the models.

“This U.S. government report is the strongest confirmation to date of what we, and independent security validations, have been saying for years – DJI drones are safe and secure for government and enterprise operations,” DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg told The Hill.

The report comes after escalating concerns at the federal level around the security of DJI and Chinese drones more broadly.

DJI was added to the Commerce Department’s “entity list” late last year, effectively blacklisting the company.


The Justice Department also banned the use of agency grants last year to purchase drones from foreign companies deemed a threat.

Lawmakers are currently weighing restrictions against the use of Chinese drones.

The massive bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which was introduced as a substitute amendment to the Endless Frontier Act last month by Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHeatwaves don't lie: Telling the truth about climate change Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (D-N.Y.), includes the American Security Drone Act.

The bill, introduced in the Senate in January by Scott, would prohibit the federal government from purchasing drones manufactured by countries deemed to be a threat to the U.S., such as China. It is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators.

Lawmakers have also sought to lock Chinese hardware out of telecommunications networks on vague national security allegations. Both Huawei and ZTE remain on the entity list, although the Biden administration is currently conducting a review of their inclusion.