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U.S. Military Can Shoot Down Your Drone in No-Fly Zones

By George Khoury, Esq. on August 10, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A new confidential policy of the U.S. armed forces permits consumer and commercially operated drones to be shot down if they enter or approach a no-fly zone. This policy appears to have been recently rolled out, but it does correspond to the warning the FAA issued to consumers earlier this year about flying near military bases. While the details of the policy remain confidential, releasing some info about it will go a long way to help educate the public as well as provide an easy to find answer through Google when a drone operator searches: "My drone got shot down above X military base."

After all, as the number of commercial and hobbyist drone operators continues to increase, the risk of a drone flying into a no-fly zone also increases. Though it may seem like common sense to not fly a drone near an airport or military base, in the excitement of RC aviation, it's not too farfetched that a person might forget, or not actually know what they're flying over. Only Maverick can get away with buzzing the tower.

Shots Can Backfire

The information being released about the policy essentially states that if military personnel believe the drone to be a threat and it's approaching or in a no-fly zone, they are authorized to seize and destroy the drone. However, a drone's owner might be happier to lose their drone than to have it tracked back to them, which is another option that can be used (and is much simpler than one might expect).

Since flying in a no-fly zone can result in criminal prosecution, and potentially jail time and large fines, an operator might be better off having their drone blown to smithereens with a surface to air missile. It may make sense to permit the military to destroy unknown drones, but doing so may make it impossible to track down the responsible party.

Avoid No-Fly Zones Easily

There's an easy way to avoid the no-fly zones: use an app. In our modern world, there really is an app or website for just about everything. The FAA released the B4UFly app (get it? Before You Fly) which gives you localized information about where you can and cannot fly your drone, and also provides other useful information for drone operators and hobbyists.

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