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Small drones have already illustrated their capabilities in harassing much larger planes and leave flights grounded. The small aircraft run the risk of colliding with planes and helicopters, especially when they’re taking off, and could even be converted into flying bombs.
Now, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to give air marshals the power to use Defense Department equipment to shoot down drones near airports.
However, in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security that summarizes the plan, two Republican congressmen said the idea goes far beyond what they envisioned when they gave the federal government new powers to counter drones last year.
Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said only the Federal Aviation Administration has the expertise to manage the nation’s skies. “Nobody wants drones to cause disruptions at our airports, but to hastily hand over authority to shoot down drones to an agency that doesn’t have the critical knowledge or experience of how our airspace system functions is irresponsible and dangerous,” the congressmen said in a statement.
According to washingtonpost.com, the DHS began working with other government departments to develop an emergency plan this summer, after a drone grounded traffic at London’s busy Gatwick Airport. The plans were finalized last month.
In response to the drone threat to airports and aircraft, the Congress gave DHS new authority to tackle drones, including the power to destroy them, if they posed a danger to the security of sensitive locations, like Customs and Border Protection facilities and Secret Service offices.
The congressmen said the counter-drone technology was “sorely lacking” and that the air marshals had a “complete absence of any experience in such matters.”