WASHINGTON: The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on June 6 will urge Congress to approve legislation giving the federal government new powers to disable or destroy threatening drones, according to sources.
David Glawe, DHS's undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, and the department's deputy general counsel Hayley Chang, will tell the Senate committee that oversees the department that it needs new authority.
“Terrorist groups overseas use drones to conduct attacks on the battlefield terrorist attacks. This is a very serious, looming threat that we are currently unprepared to confront, “the officials” testimony said. “Right now we can not test mitigation methods,” he said.
A bipartisan group of Senators including Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, a Republican, and the committee's top Democrat, Claire McCaskill, last month, introduced legislation to give DHS and the Justice Department authority to “protect buildings and assets when there is an unacceptable security risk to public safety posed by an unmanned aircraft”.
Johnson said in prepared remarks for the hearing that a bipartisan group of senators backs the legislation.
“The federal government does not have the legal authorities. “The threats posed by malicious drones are too great to ignore,” Johnson said.
“It is not enough to just tell the operators of unmanned aircraft; We must give federal law to the authorities to act if necessary. “
Johnson said the number of drone flights over sensitive areas or suspicious activities has jumped in eight incidents in 2013 to an estimated 1,752 incidents in 2016, citing federal statistics.  The DHS testimony noted a number of recent incidents involving drones. In March, a Coast Guard helicopter in California was forced to take evasive action to avoid a drone in Washington, DC, while recently a drone landed on the deck of the Coast Guard.
DHS said despite upgraded security in the Washington DC area “we are still experiencing (drone) incidents … that require an appropriate response – even if they are nuisance or non-compliant operators who disregard the rules.”
In 2017, a small civilian drone struck a US Army helicopter near New York City damaging a rotor blade. Since 2017, federal officials have banned drones over US military bases, national landmarks, nuclear sites and other sensitive areas.
The bill would cover high-profile events like the Super Bowl and presidential inaugurations as well as federal installations officials. It would authorize officials to disrupt communications of threatening drones, seize control or destroy them if needed.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in January that more than 1 million drones have been registered. In May, the US Transportation Department picked 10 pilot projects allowing drone use at night, out of sight operations and over populated areas.
The FBI and FAA will also testify at the hearing. – Reuters