While the military is working on weaponizing drones – including equipping them with machine guns – the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is warning the general public that attaching a dangerous weapon to a consumer-grade drone and sending it skyward is illegal.

From guns to flamethrowers

Nonetheless, some owners have attached guns, bombs, fireworks and even – according to the FAA – flamethrowers to their drones. Many of these people post photos and videos of their creations online, like this one, showing an airborne drone armed with a handgun, accompanied by the comment; “This will be patrolling my property soon!”

Another video shows a drone hovering in midair, firing what appears to be a semiautomatic handgun that's mounted on it.

A $25,000 fine

Both of these are illegal modifications to drones, according to the FAA, a violation ofSection 363 of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act enacted Oct. 5, 2018. Operating a drone that has a dangerous weapon attached to it could result in civil penalties up to $25,000 for each violation, unless the operator has received specific authorization from the Administrator of the FAA to conduct the operation.

Dangerous Weapon” means any item that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.

Operators should keep in mind that federal regulations and statutes that generally govern drone operations still apply. Some state and federal criminal laws regarding weapons and hazardous materials may also apply to drone operators or manufacturers involved in certain operations.