When Belgian Defense is eyeing Chinese drones

The Belgian army is considering the purchase of small Chinese civilian observation drones banned by the US Army.

Chinese equipment bought soon by the Belgian army? This is what suggests a post recently published on social networks by Defense, which indicates that the Air component “is currently studying the possibility of integrating a DJI Matrice 300 type drone as additional capacity in support of the daily operations and missions of our units “.

The DJI Matrice 300 drone.

With the investment plan decided under previous governments, the Belgian army, like all modern armies, has embarked on the acquisition of new remotely controlled devices. La Défense, which until now had only one type of drone, the RQ-5 B-Hunter – now withdrawn – will soon have at its disposal a significantly larger range, ranging from the imposing MQ-9 SkyGuardian – the modern and Europeanized version of the famous Reaper – at more modest tactical devices, some of which are hand-launched. She would like to complete this panoply with small, inexpensive, light civilian drones. The idea would be to integrate the use of aerial imagery within the air force, in areas such as communication, assessment, infrastructure, air safety and base surveillance.

In 2017, the US Army banned the purchase of drones from the Chinese manufacturer DJI, highlighting the risks of hacking the data transmitted.

The catch is that the DJI Matrice 300 drone is Chinese. This small machine of 9 kg maximum with an autonomy of 55 minutes is used by the security forces and for the missions of rescue or difficult inspections. At a time when several Western countries want to prevent the Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei from participating in the installation of the new 5G networks, it might seem paradoxical to take the risk of allowing other Chinese companies to be able to possibly have access to sensitive information within the army.

In 2017, the US Army banned the purchase of drones from the Chinese manufacturer DJI, by highlighting the risks of hacked data transmitted. Only “case-by-case” exemptions would have been granted for “urgent needs”. Other armed forces of the Atlantic Alliance followed the lead of the Americans and turned to western suppliers for the acquisition of these small observation drones.

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