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The US military banned DJI in 2017, and sanctioned them in 2020: Is a DJI drone ban coming for drone enthusiasts? Chinese made drones facing increasingly intense scrutiny in Congress

  1. Are DJI drones banned in the US? Are they legal?
  2. DJI drones are powerful tools of surveillance and have even been used in the Ukraine, Russian war
  3. Why did the US military ban DJI drones?
  4. Why did the US sanction DJI drones?
  5. Will the US ban DJI?
  6. Who are the largest drone manufacturers, and are they as good as DJI (market share leader in the US)?

Are DJI drones banned in the US? Are they legal?

No DJI drones are not banned – not for regular drone enthusiasts who want to pick up a DJI drone for their fantastic capabilities. So you can legally go down to your local brick-and-mortar or buy a DJI drone online.

However, in 2017 the US military issued a blanket ban on DJI and many drones with Chinese-made components.
The US military believes that DJI and other Chinese drone manufacturers are backed by the Chinese government even when publicly disclosed; therefore, they think the drones have backdoors allowing for spying or other nefarious state acts.

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DJI drones are powerful tools of surveillance and have even been used in the Ukraine, Russian war

DJI announced they would halt sales after media reports showed DJI drones being used on both sides of the Russian and Ukraine war. DJI drones were established to help artillery with bombing runs and retrofitted bombs to attack enemy positions. More controversial still was the coverage indicating DJI provides location data to China on drone fliers; related to that, Russians could not determine where DJI drone operators were because the flying signals were not encrypted.

This is DJI’s announcement that they will no longer sell drones in Russia or Ukraine:

So why did the US military ban DJI drones?

In August of 2017, the US military banned the use of drones manufactured by the Chinese company DJI. The ban is because the army believes that DJI drones are vulnerable to hacking and could potentially be used to collect sensitive information. In addition, there are concerns that the GPS in DJI drones could be spoofed, leading to dangerous navigation errors. While DJI has disputed these claims, the military has not reversed its decision. As a result, DJI drones are no longer allowed on any military bases or properties. Instead, the US military uses military-specific drones and civilian drones alike.

Why did the US sanction DJI drones?

In December 2020, the U.S. government passed legislation banning the use of drones manufactured by DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer. The ban was justified because DJI’s drones are equipped with technology that could be used to spy on American citizens.

This technology includes a high-resolution camera and GPS tracking, which could be used to collect sensitive information about people or locations. In addition, the legislation cited concerns about data security, as DJI is a Chinese company and is thus subject to Chinese law. While the ban affects only government agencies and contractors, it is likely to ripple effect on the drone industry. Some experts have predicted that other countries will follow suit and ban DJI drones, which could lead to a dramatic decline in sales for the company.

Will the US ban DJI?

The FCC and Congress have both been moving towards increased regulation of drones. The FCC is calling for new laws, and Republican lawmakers, for their part, are proposing an outright ban on any Chinese-made drones in the US – not just for the government. This could potentially make the drones illegal, but it’s unclear if this has much support in the Republican caucus.

Who are the largest drone manufacturers, and are they as good as DJI (market share leader in the US)?

Several companies manufacture drones, but the three largest manufacturers are DJI, Yuneec, and 3DR. DJI is a Chinese company that is headquartered in Shenzhen. It was founded in 2006 and sold various drones for consumer and commercial use. Yuneec is another Chinese drone manufacturer. It was founded in 1999 and specialized in making drones for photography and videography.

Finally, 3DR is an American company that was founded in 2009. It offers ready-to-fly drones and DIY kits for those who want to build their drones. All three of these companies are leading the way in drone technology and have a significant presence in the market.

No companies close to DJI regarding the quality consumer and industrial drones offered. DJI’s drones are leaders in technology, usability, and function. Even with the current sanctions and limitations on military use, many new drone companies will enter to compete as DJI is pushed out. If DJI is wholly banned, US consumers will lose access to a great piece of technology for security. Moreover, it would likely be years before suitable American-made replacements would be available.

The DJI 3 Mini is one of the latest drones announced by the company and is squarely targeted at the hobbyist market: