Washington, D.C. The U.S. military almost launched fighter jets and discussed a possible shoot-down when an errant Navy drone briefly veered into restricted airspace near the nation’s capital last month, a senior military official said Thursday.
The incident underscores safety concerns with unmanned aircraft as defense officials campaign to use them more often during natural disasters and for homeland security.
Navy Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., head of Northern Command, said Thursday that the August mishap could hamper the Pentagon’s push to have the Federal Aviation Administration ease procedures for drone use by the military in domestic skies.
Currently drones are used for patrols and surveillance along the nation’s southern border, and sometimes at the northern border. But the military wants to use them more during hurricanes and other disasters to evaluate damage or target rescue efforts.