In case you didn’t already know this was the case, here’s a casual reminder from the Federal Aviation Administration that weaponized drones are illegal.
The FAA recently sent out a rather unheralded news release, reminding everyone that yes, it is illegal to operate a drone with a dangerous weapon attached.
“Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items,” according to the news release from the FAA. “Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.”
Their memo may have been referencing the drone pictured in the video of this tweet:
That drone was enhanced by a company called ThrowFlame, which recently caught media attention for with its $1,500 “TF-19 Wasp” drone flamethrower attachment (ThrowFlame claims that their flamethrowers are ‘tools,’ not ‘weapons,’ thus they aren’t illegal). Their video primarily features a DJI Matrice drone (either the DJI S1000 or DJI M600) with their own custom attachment. Note that DJI does not necessarily condone such an attachment.
Another once-viral video that’s a few years old now shows a drone firing a handgun.
Other videos show drones operating not so much as weapons, but highlight their danger. If you’re a banana, then this video of drones slicing fruit could seem quiet dangerous.
To set the record straight, flying a drone with a weapon attached to it (without specific FAA authorization) violates Section 363 of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, and could subject you to civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each violation.
Additionally, some state and federal criminal laws regarding weapons and hazardous materials may also apply to drone operators or manufacturers involved in certain operations of weaponized drones.
Happy flying, and please, safe flying too!