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Calls to ground Border Force’s DJI drone fleet

Australian Border Force is the latest Federal government agency to cone under pressure to ground its fleet of DJI drones.

This follows moves this month by the Australian Defence Force to suspend use of all DJI products – including hundreds of drones – until a government audit is completed.

The US Department of Defense banned use of the Chinese drones more than six months ago due to concerns about DJI’s possible links to the Chinese military and the legal obligations of Chinese companies to assist the Chinese Communist Party when called upon to do so.

According to a story in The Herald Sun, the ABF has purchased 41 DJI drones since 2017, most last year, and is trialling them to enhance its operational capability. ABF also has hundreds of batteries, controllers, charging stations and several thermal and night vision cameras produced by DJI.

‘If it’s not safe to use in our military it should be nowhere near our highly sensitive border protection operations either,’ said Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson (pictured right).

‘The Albanese government should urgently investigate lower-risk alternatives to DJI for all Commonwealth departments and agencies.’

The ABF has yet to commit to banning DJI drones and ancilliary equipment, saying it was not ’embedded’ in its operations.

‘The ABF adheres to strict cyber security measures with DJI technology to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of all official information generated through or during the use of this technology,’ an ABF spokesperson said.

‘The ABF is working closely with partner agencies on its RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft systems) cyber security measures to ensure they remain contemporary and fit-for-purpose.’

The Australian Federal Police’s deputy commissioner Ian McCartney told an Estimates Hearing last month the AFP was ‘transitioning out’ of using DJI drones.

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