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  • Tensions between the US and China are on the rise

  • The Pentagon is in a panic about relying on Chinese tech

  • Because the US military depends on China for small drones

  • But the Pentagon has an idea to break its Made in China habit

  • Welcome back to China Uncensored.

  • I'm Chris Chappell.

  • As if China's military build-up in the South China Sea

  • and its constant threats over Taiwan

  • weren't enough to worry about,

  • the Pentagon now has a new cause for concern.

  • No, not giant military cats.

  • Although those are concerning.

  • No, I'm talking about the US military's

  • reliance on Chinese drones.

  • The idea is for small units on the battlefield,

  • that you have small drones that soldiers

  • can quickly unpack and get in the air,”

  • says Michael Horowitz,

  • a University of Pennsylvania professor.

  • These quadcopters are also inexpensive enough

  • that if one crashes or you lose one,

  • it's not that big a deal.”

  • The drones we're talking about here

  • are a type of small Unmanned Aerial Systemor UAS.

  • This kind.

  • They're used by the US military

  • mostly for reconnaissance missions.

  • But even little drones can be lethal.

  • "All it takes is something literally as simple as this.

  • Here is a device that is built to drop a payload.

  • So this actually hooks onto the sides of this, underneath.

  • And this closes.

  • And all you have to do is,

  • with something less than a hundred bucks,

  • is literally put it on the bottom of this

  • and it allows you to trigger a mechanism

  • that can release a payload."

  • "It can kill somebody but it's not at the lethality

  • that a Hellfire missile would have."

  • But the Pentagon is not so much worried about

  • the Chinese military sending a swarm of drones over

  • to attack the US mainland...

  • since Amazon's already got that covered.

  • No, the Pentagon is worried about the Chinese-made drones

  • that the US government has been buying of its own free will.

  • Specifically, this Chinese technology

  • could potentially have built-in security flaws

  • designed to give the Chinese military

  • an advantage in case of conflict.

  • For example, a secret piece of code

  • that would send sensitive information to China.

  • According to this 2017 memo,

  • the Department of Defense ordered troops to stop using drones

  • made by Chinese company DJI

  • because of "increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities."

  • According to the memo,

  • DJI was at the time

  • one of the most widely used brands of drones by the US Army.

  • Citing a classified report into

  • DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities,”

  • the Army ordered troops tocease all use,

  • uninstall all DJI applications,

  • remove all batteries/storage media from devices,

  • and secure the equipment.”

  • The Pentagon didn't reveal

  • the specifics of the national security threat.

  • And at the time,

  • a DJI company spokesman complained to the BBC that

  • "The US Army has not explained

  • why it suddenly banned the use of DJI drones and components,

  • what 'cyber-vulnerabilities' it is concerned about."

  • Somehow I don't think the cyber-vulnerability

  • was that the drones had too many feelings.

  • But to illustrate the problem,

  • in 2017, “[DJI's] Phantom series of [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles drew]

  • the attention of hackers who've been able to break into

  • and manipulate the drone's GPS software,

  • punching holes in the 'geofences'

  • that sought to keep the drones out of no-fly zones.”

  • Obviously, that hack was not good PR for DJI.

  • So in early 2019, DJI released this video,

  • promoting its new line of drones designed for government use:

  • DJI has developed a new hardware and software solution

  • that allows government agencies to confidently use drone technology

  • while keeping in accordance with stringent

  • IT and data security requirements.

  • We call it DJI government edition.”

  • I mean, it's essentially the same drone technology,

  • but now with bigger promises.

  • It actually allows us to tell our clients

  • that all of their telemetry data

  • meaning where the drone is flying

  • is stored securely and not shared with anyone but them.”

  • I mean, if DJI got a guy in a Patagonia vest to say it,

  • it must be true.

  • Even if that guy is the CEO of a company

  • that stands to make millions

  • off of helping government agencies implement DJI drones.

  • That video, which is targeted at

  • no...government...in...particular...

  • does aim to address one of the specific concerns

  • that the US government just happens to have:

  • If the US military personnel on covert missions

  • are using DJI drones in secret locations,

  • those missions could be compromised

  • by something as simple as leaked flight logs.

  • Or shutting down a drone in mid-flight.

  • There are U.S. special operators in Syria using DJI products,”

  • the CEO of Expert Drones told the publication Defense One.

  • So I get it.

  • I'm glad [the Army is] finally doing something about this.”

  • Because given the growing clarity that China is,

  • in fact, America's chief strategic adversary,

  • being hooked on technology that's made in China

  • may be, well, un-strategic.

  • And there are fears that the Chinese regime

  • is secretly installing backdoors in commercial technology

  • for potential military advantage.

  • And it certainly wouldn't be the first time

  • the Chinese regime has been accused of using

  • seemingly innocuous commercial technology

  • to gain a potential advantage.

  • Huawei.

  • Sorry. I meantHuawei”.

  • The company that makes knockoff iPhones and 5G technology.

  • The Pentagon's national security concerns

  • about Chinese-made drones were echoed

  • by the Department of Homeland Security in May this year.

  • Which is several months after DJI

  • made that video promising the government edition of their drones

  • is totally secure,

  • there's nothing to worry about.

  • In a notice titledChinese Manufactured Unmanned Aircraft Systems,”

  • Homeland Security warned that U.S. officials

  • havestrong concerns about any technology product

  • that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state

  • that permits its intelligence services

  • to have unfettered access to that data

  • or otherwise abuses that access.”

  • That being said, it appears the US government

  • *has* given security clearance

  • to the government edition of DJI.

  • And that's probably because there just aren't

  • good alternatives made in America.

  • “[The US doesn't] have much of a small

  • [Unmanned Aerial System] industrial base

  • because DJI dumped so many low-price quadcopters on the market,

  • and we then became dependent on them,”

  • said Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer,

  • in a recent press conference.

  • So how can the US wean itself

  • off of dependence on Chinese drones?

  • By diving headlong into the world of American tech startups.

  • This fall, the Defense Department is launching something

  • called a “Trusted Capital Marketplace

  • to connect investors with small tech firms t

  • o boost domestic production of small drones.

  • A kind of Shark Tank,

  • where even the Pentagon itself can be one of the sharks.

  • Although the Pentagon will never be

  • as intimidating as Mark Cuban.

  • Mark

  • What are you doing?”

  • But if you need a million bucks to launch your project

  • of a tiny drone that shoots massive Hellfire missiles,

  • the Pentagon can't wait to hear your pitch.

  • After all, once they have the drone problem solved,

  • they can focus on the real threat.

  • And turn it to their advantage.

  • So what do you think about the US Army's

  • dependence on Chinese drones

  • and its idea to boost domestic manufacturing

  • of Unmanned Aerial Systems?

  • Leave your comments below.

  • And China Uncensored is made possible

  • mainly through viewer support

  • fans who contribute through the crowdfunding website Patreon.

  • Pledge a dollar or more to support the show.

  • Once again, I'm Chris Chappell.

  • See you next time.

Tensions between the US and China are on the rise

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Why the Pentagon Fears Chinese Drones

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    zijun su posted on 2021/07/22
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