When it comes to new releases, DJI isn't exactly known for being quiet. Unplanned leaks typically surface in various online communities a few days ahead of every official announcement. Even with speculation leading up to an event in the form of photos and product descriptions, the world's top drone manufacturer hosts glitzy, high-end affairs for media and industry insiders to introduce its new products. The Osmo Pocket, for example, launched last December at 'Good Morning America's' New York-based television studio in front of a live audience.

This is why it's surprising that DJI chose to officially introduce a new professional-grade drone, through a provider, at Cine Gear Expo in Los Angeles. The four-day event, which took place from May 30th to June 2nd, attracted top-tier creators in the technology, entertainment, and media industries. What's even more perplexing is that the video announcing the release of the STORM was uploaded to DJI's YouTube channel back in January and remained under the radar until DroneDJ first discovered it.

Why has DJI been relatively silent about STORM, along with its DJI Pro service which was released last December after being available in Asia for close to two years? To start, the STORM is not for sale. The Verge recently confirmed that one company outside of China, Helinet Aviation, based in the U.S., claims to own one and is testing it out.

View this post on Instagram

On display in the Helinet booth at Cine Gear will be the DJI STORM - the X8 drone made by DJI to seamlessly carry the industry standard DJI RONIN 2 gimbal. This drone is the only one in America. Cine Gear will be your chance to see this beast in person and grab some photos! @djiglobal @djipro BOOTH B106 in the B-Tank 📸: @robgluckman_photography Helinet Aviation is the worldwide leader in aerial camera movement with solutions including Helicopter, Cinejet, Learjet, Moviehawk and Drone platforms led by world renowned Aerial Coordinator Kevin LaRosa II @k2_larosa Helinet Production Group: @k2_larosa @chad_daring @broby_thimpson @jfburton2 @aexandraalejandro @michaelfitzmaurice @fad2blk @dronepilotmike @cameronfitzmaurice @jaredslater @scherbas @bruno_04cl7 @airborneimages @bentonward @joe.kocsis @paddymoynahan @robgluckman_photography @jip_01 @steve_koster @insdangraming @tj.millard @mrsteelefpv @stingersswarm @helinetaviation @helinetmoviehawk @cinejet #philpastuhov #jasonlafargo

A post shared by @ helinetdrones on

How does a production company obtain access to this new-and-improved rig that can carry the heaviest, most advanced payload yet? It appears that DJI may be planning to offer the STORM for rent, packaged with the DJI Studio Custom Aerial Cinematography Service that includes a van and and professional crew. Comparable heavy-lift drones in its class, such as the xFold Dragon X12 start at $30,000.

Some STORM specs:

  • Comes equipped with eight propellers
  • Max speed: 49.7 mph (Sport mode) / 37.2 mph (GPS mode)
  • Operating temp: -10°C/14°F to 40°C/104°F
  • Flight time: 8-15 minutes
  • Max Payload: 40.8 pounds

Compared with DJI's professional-grade Matrice 600, which starts at $5,000 and can carry a payload of around 5.9kg (13lbs), the STORM can handle up to 18.5kg (40.8lbs). This allows cinematographers to place and easily maneuver more sophisticated cameras on its DJI Ronin 2 PTZ gimbal including Arri and RED models.

U.S. representatives for DJI have not confirmed if more STORM models will be made available in the near future, stating they will have to check with Shenzen, China-based headquarters.