It's not looking good for owners of consumer drones as even the US Air Force is becoming frustrated with the flying devices and wants to be given the legal authority to shoot them down if they fly too close to military aircraft.

In early July, a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter jet was trying to land at an airbase when it almost collided with a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). In the same week, there was another incident where an Air Force security guard saw a quadcopter drone fly right over the gate at an air base and onto the flight line where the aircraft are parked.

As of April, it is illegal for anyone to fly drones over 133 military bases in the US, and all the bases feature clear sign posts warning people that UAVs are not permitted. Despite this, drones are continuing to wander into military airspace no-fly zones, and although the Air Force hopes the drones are just being flown by unwitting enthusiasts, there's no way to tell for sure.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects the number of consumer drones to rise from 1.1 million at the end of 2016 to over 3.5 million by 2021, so something has to be done.

However, at the moment, there is nothing the US military can actually do about it, because it's illegal to shoot drones out of the sky, since they are protected by the same laws governing other civilian aircraft.

"Imagine a world where somebody flies a couple hundred of those and flies one down the intake of my F-22s with just a small weapon on it," General James "Mike" Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command said at an event in Washington DC, according to Aviation Week. "I need the authorities to deal with that."

US Air Force guards F-22 fighter jet
The US Air Force is now seeking the authority to let it shoot drones down after incidents of drones flying over airbases and almost colliding with an F-22 Raptor fighter jetReuters

Figuring out legal authority over drones is also complicated because several different government agencies are also involved, so even if you just wanted to jam the electronics of a drone to get it to land, only government agencies are currently permitted to do so, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The US Air Force's most immediate priority is to protect its nuclear weapons bases from drones, but the Department of Energy also has to agree.

"We will likely receive authorities to defend the nuclear installations first, and then we will try to work the other ones," said Holmes. "We need to extend those authorities beyond the nuclear sites to protect our sophisticated assets that we rely on."

Consumer UAVs are also being flown near civilian airports, where drones have almost collided with commercial jetliners taking off by ascending directly in their flight path.

On 2 July, an incident with a UAV at Gatwick Airport in the UK caused at least two flights to be diverted and the runway to close temporarily. Sussex Police are still investigating.