The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent “approximately $600,000” to purchase six drones, three different models, between September 2011 and September 2012 “but never flew them operationally” because they were “unreliable or unsuitable,” says a March 2015 audit conducted by the Justice Department inspector-general.

“ATF officials told us that they encountered a series of technological limitations – such as issues related to flight time and maneuverability – with these UAS and concluded that the systems were unsuitable to support operations. ATF subsequently suspended all UAS-related activities and disposed of these UAS,” the audit said.

For example, the battery for one type of drone lasted for only 20 minutes, instead of the 45 minutes promised by the manufacturer.

There were problems with the two other drone models as well:

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