Hoeven to FBI: Partner with Northern Plains UAS Test Site on Counter-UAS Law Enforcement Training
Senator Authored & Secured Language in FY21 Funding Bill Requiring Counter-UAS Plan, Urging Director Wray to Utilize Test Site’s Expertise
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today made the case to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray to utilize the expertise of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site on efforts to establish a Counter-UAS training program to benefit state, local and tribal law enforcement. Hoeven authored and secured language in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 funding legislation directing the FBI to report to Congress on this matter, part of his broader efforts to advance North Dakota’s leadership in UAS and protect against the misuse of the technology.
“UAS offers broad benefits to national security and many economic sectors, including agriculture and energy. In addition to these positive benefits, however, this technology can be misused in a number of serious ways,” Hoeven said. “Considering its long-standing work with the Department of Homeland Security and NASA, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in particular is well-suited to advance federal government efforts to counter the misuse of unmanned aircraft and guide the development of this training program for law enforcement. That’s why we’re making the case for the FBI to partner with our state’s test site to develop their training program for counter UAS.”
The full text of Hoeven’s letter is below:
Dear Director Wray:
Thank you for your continued service to our country through your leadership at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). As you may know, the conference report to accompany the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriation for the Department of Justice (DOJ) includes language directing the FBI to report on the feasibility of establishing a Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) training program for State, local, and Tribal law enforcement. I write to urge you to work with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site in support of this effort.
As previously mentioned, the conference report to accompany FY21 appropriations for DOJ includes the following language:
Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS).
The FBI is directed, through the Critical Incident Response Group and in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, to submit a report, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, on the feasibility of establishing a C-UAS training program for State, local, and Tribal law enforcement. The report shall further detail the resource requirements for full-scale implementation of a C-UAS training program.
As you may be aware, I co-authored legislation in 2011 to establish the FAA’s UAS test sites with the intent of assisting the agency in efforts to integrate UAS into our national airspace alongside manned aircraft. While technology has advanced considerably in the ensuing decade, the role of the test sites remains vital to the safe integration of UAS. Not only can the test sites ease the development of technology for use in the private sector, they also help develop the safety and security architecture needed to keep the skies safe for all users.
In addition to the positives that can came along with this technology, UAS can be misused in a variety of ways, including for the surveillance of sensitive government sites, invading individual privacy and delivering contraband to prisoners. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site in particular is well suited to advance federal government efforts to counter the misuse of unmanned aircraft. The test site works regularly with officials at the Department of Homeland Security on C-UAS technology, and has collaborated for many years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the development of unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems that help sort legitimate UAS traffic from security threats. Further, the test site understands the challenges associated with making airspace available to a variety of public and private users. For these reasons, I believe the test site is uniquely suited to advise the Critical Incident Response Group on what a C-UAS training program for law enforcement should include and how it might be implemented.
I am a strong supporter of UAS technology and countering the misuse of UAS. The aforementioned report language is a clear signal of congressional concern that law enforcement officials can and should help mitigate the threat of nefarious UAS use. I hope that you will leverage the expertise of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site as you write the report, and I request that you brief my staff about your strategy for writing the report as well as the final product when the report is complete later this year.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your continued commitment to the safety and security of the American people.
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