The latest action in the National Defense Authorization act (Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA Sec 817) became law on December 23rd, 2022, and saw more stringent changes made to the rules. This blog post summarises those updates and explains how the rules apply to our NDAA compliant series at BotBlox.
What does Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA Sec 817 actually mean for drone builders?
The full bill can be found here, and a summary is available on DIU's website here. The latest version of this act tightens up a lot of the requirements regarding UAS systems. In general it states UAS systems used for applications critical to national security must not be manufactured in a "covered" country, nor may any UAS be purchased from a "covered UAS company"
A covered country here refers to:
- People's Republic of China,
- The Russian Federation
- The Islamic Republic of Iran
- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
A covered UAS Company refers to:
- Da-Jiang Innovations (or any subsidiary or affiliate of Da-Jiang Innovations) (aka DJI)
- Any entity that produces or provides UAS and is included on Consolidated Screening List maintained by the International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce
- Any entity that produces or provides unmanned aircraft systems and—
- is domiciled in a covered foreign country; or
- is subject to unmitigated foreign ownership, control or influence by a covered foreign country, as determined by the Secretary of Defense unmitigated foreign ownership, control or influence in accordance with the National Industrial Security Program (or any successor to such program).
This legislation also applies to "critical components", which includes:
- Flight controllers
- Data transmission devices
- Ground control systems
- Operating software
- Network connectivity
- Data storage
What does this mean for BotBlox hardware?
While BotBlox does not build full UAS systems, our hardware would be classified as data transmission devices and network connectivity devices. As such, we must comply with these rules in the same way as a full UAS provider.
Thankfully, we built our NDAA compliant series of boards to comply with Executive Order Executive Order 13981. This means that:
- Our company, Kapek Ltd, is headquarted and solely owned in the UK.
- Our NDAA compliant series are part-manufactured in Thailand and part-manufactured in the UK. No manufacture takes place in any of the covered countries listed above for the NDAA compliant series of boards.
- Nearly all of the electrical components on our NDAA compliant boards are sourced from outside of China. Read more about this here.
As such, our NDAA compliant boards remain fully compliant despite recent changes to the NDAA rules.
Is BotBlox Hardware part of the BlueUAS program?
BlueUAS is a US Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) program designed to rapidly vet and scale commercial unmanned aerial system (UAS) technology for the Department of Defense (DoD). This is part of a larger effort of the US government to focus local innovation in UAS systems for the DoD, and to reduce dependence on foreign adversary countries.
BlueUAS applies only companies that build full drone systems. BotBlox designs and builds network connectivity for drones, but does not build full drone systems. Therefore BotBlox (and any other component level supplier) cannot be a part of the BlueUAS program directly.
However, all BlueUAS drone systems must be NDAA compliant, and thus must use critical components that are NDAA compliant.
BotBlox's NDAA compliant series serves this role, and so while we are not a member of the BlueUAS program, we do sell hardware that you can use to build drones that are BlueUAS certified. Indeed, many certified BlueUAS members already use our NDAA compliant series hardware.