A bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing the “American Security Drone Act,” which seeks to impose restrictions on the U.S. federal government’s acquisition of drones manufactured in China. The bill, co-sponsored by Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) and Representative Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut), aims to enhance national security by limiting the procurement of drones from nations designated as potential security threats.
In a prepared statement, Representative Joe Courtney emphasized the importance of reducing the U.S. government’s dependence on foreign-made drone technology. He stressed that while unmanned surveillance capabilities are essential, compromising national security for the sake of convenience should be avoided, especially when American manufacturers are fully capable of meeting these demands.
The proposed legislation intends to prevent both the government and private entities receiving government funding from acquiring drones produced by companies under the influence, ownership, or control of the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which governs China as a one-party state.
The bill goes further by extending its restrictions to the purchase of drones from other countries identified as potential national security threats.
Representative Mike Gallagher, one of the co-sponsors, highlighted the far-reaching consequences of the United States’ increasing reliance on Chinese-manufactured drones. He noted that this reliance had significant implications for international security, as Chinese companies linked to the CCP were providing drone technology to entities engaged in aggression against U.S. allies and partners.
Gallagher underscored how the Chinese Communist Party had on multiple occasions, exploited its near monopoly on the global drone market to serve its interests. He cited examples of the CCP limiting drone exports to Ukraine while enabling other groups, such as Hamas, to use drones for acts of terrorism.
The American Security Drone Act aims to curtail the use of American taxpayer funds for the procurement of such equipment from countries like China. By doing so, it seeks to obstruct malign behavior supported by Chinese drone exports, which ultimately poses a significant national security threat to the United States and its allies.
If this legislation is successfully passed, it will promptly prohibit the use of government purchase cards to acquire Chinese-manufactured drones. Furthermore, it would necessitate the creation of a comprehensive report on U.S. drone supply chains within one year, ultimately leading to a complete ban within two years.
Although the proposed ban is comprehensive, there are certain exceptions, such as the use of Chinese-origin drones for specific purposes, including fighting wildfires and collecting intelligence.
Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) and Rob Wittman (R-Virginia) joined in introducing the bill, emphasizing that continued reliance on Chinese technologies undermines the United States in its ongoing global competition.
Representative Wittman emphasized that, to prevail in this era of great power competition, the U.S. government should not use drones manufactured by its adversaries. He expressed pride in joining his colleagues from across the aisle in reintroducing the American Security Drone Act, which seeks to promote American superiority and competitiveness within the drone market. Additionally, it aims to protect against intellectual property theft and data security breaches linked to the Chinese Communist Party, ultimately reinforcing national security.
“While there’s a clear need for unmanned surveillance capabilities, we cannot subvert our national security imperatives for the sake of expediency, particularly when American manufacturers have the ability to fill this need.”
The bill would bar the government or private entities using government funding from purchasing drones made by companies that are “subject to influence or owned or controlled” by China or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state.
It would also prohibit the purchase of drones from other countries that are deemed to be national security threats.
Banning Chinese Drones a Vital US Security Interest
Mr. Gallagher said the increasing U.S. reliance on drones manufactured in China was already having profound effects on the international security space, propping up CCP-linked companies that enable aggression against U.S. allies and partners.
“The Chinese Communist Party consistently weaponizes its near monopoly on the drone market against the good guys; restricting drone exports to Ukraine while Hamas uses them to perpetrate brutal terrorist attacks,” Mr. Gallagher said in a prepared statement.
“This bill would prohibit the federal government from using American taxpayer dollars to purchase this equipment from countries like China, supporting … malign behavior and posing a serious national security threat to the U.S. and our allies.”
If passed, the bill would immediately prohibit any government purchase card form from being used to obtain such drones and would mandate the creation of a report on U.S. drone supply chains within one year and a total ban within two years.
There are some exceptions afforded to the proposed ban, including the use of Chinese-originating drones for fighting wildfires and collecting intelligence.
“If America is to prevail in this era of great power competition, the U.S. government cannot be using drones manufactured by our adversaries,” Mr. Wittman said.
“I am proud to join my colleagues from across the aisle in reintroducing the American Security Drone Act, which will promote American superiority and competitiveness within the drone market, protect against IP theft and data security violations by the Chinese Communist Party, and fortify our national security.”