The US military has a lot of drones—and an unending demand from troops in the field for more. As a result, the Army has for some time allowed units to purchase hundreds of off-the-shelf drones made by DJI, the Chinese consumer drone maker. The Army Aviation Directorate has provided "airworthiness releases" for DJI drones over 300 times for a variety of missions, according to a memorandum issued by the directorate's deputy chief of staff.
But now all of those drones are getting pulled from service, as the result of classified findings in a May study by the Army Research Lab at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, as well as a Navy memorandum citing "operational risks" in using DJI drones. The memorandum ordering the ban was obtained by Small UAS News.
The reason may be related to information gathering by DJI's products that could include geographic location of flights, audio, and video.