In an announcement this week, the Department of Defense is giving military commanders the go ahead to disable drones seen over bases. Bases like Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.
A spokesperson for the DoD, Navy Cpt. Jeff Davis says, “We support civilian law enforcement investigations in the prosecution of unauthorized UAS operations over military installations and though we do not discuss specific force-protection measures, we of course retain the right of self-defense.”
The classified policy went into effect in July, giving the military permission to disable, destroy or seize unmanned aircraft in the effort to stop threats. Threats can now include drones, including small store-bought models that make their way into unauthorized airspace above military installations.
A spokesperson for Tinker Air Force Base saying in their own statement on Wednesday, "Protecting our force remains a top priority," adding that "DoD personnel retain the right of self-defense."
The policy is also raising questions about public safety. A spokesperson for Midwest City, located across the street from the airbase said Tinker officials had not spoken to them about the policy. However, she said they didn't have immediate concerns of “disabling” shots that may miss.
The move comes in response to an increase in the sale of drones and several close calls with drones near bases and airfields. Federal guidelines restrict airspace around both by a radius of up to five miles.
Commercial drone pilots must be licensed and often obey federal restrictions. However, the majority of pilots use drones for recreation and may not even know they're flying where they shouldn't.
Tinker officials said they have not notified surrounding communities of the new policy. A spokesperson said plans to meet with local leaders are being worked on but are still being approved through command channels.