Steer Clear from Military Bases if You Want to Keep Your Drone (and Yourself) Out of Trouble

By Thomas Nguyen

There has been a growing security concern posed by drones, especially in light of increased use by both private citizens and companies. With the aim of keeping personnel and equipment safe in connection with its domestic military bases, the Pentagon recently issued classified rules that provide guidance to the U.S. military on how to deal with private and commercial drones that are found flying over or around its domestic military bases.

During the drafting process of the rules, the Pentagon consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determine how best to deal with drones. Although the specifics of the rules are classified, the rules generally allow for a variety of different responses to drones including tracking, disabling, and destroying the drones. The response may depend on the circumstances as well as the installation the drone is spotted near (i.e. the drones may even be seized afterwards for use in subsequent investigations). Further, the military already has several options in place such as using traditional ammunition to disable or destroy the drones as well as relying on radio waves to commandeer the drones from their operators. 

However, the drones may not be the only things targeted if found operating near military bases. Back in April of this year, the Pentagon and the FAA announced a rule that prohibited drone flights near various domestic military bases. Although the previous rule regarding drones did not indicate that the drones would be specifically targeted by the military, it did state that pilots caught violating the restriction would be subject to arrest. The Pentagon has indicated that it will support civilian law enforcement investigations and the prosecution of unauthorized drone operations over military installations. Violators could potentially face fines or jail time.    

For reference, a map can be found on the FAA website that provides information for the general public regarding areas and altitudes where drones can be operated safely. The map also highlights the various restricted airspace in connection with the domestic military bases.

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