Category Archive 'Drones'
10 Aug 2020
Forbes has a report informing us that someone took a long and detailed look at the largest power plant in the United States with deliberation and undoubted malign intent.
Documents gained under the Freedom of Information Act show how a number of small drones flew around a restricted area at Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant on two successive nights last September. Security forces watched, but were apparently helpless to act as the drones carried out their incursions before disappearing into the night. Details of the event gives some clues as to just what they were doing, but who sent them remains a mystery.
Details of the events were obtained from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by Douglas D. Johnson on behalf of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU) using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The SCUâ€™s main interest is in anomalous aerospace phenomena, what other people term UFOs. In this case though the flying objects were easily identifiable as drones, although their exact mission and origin are unknown. Johnson passed the information to The War Zone who give a detailed account.
Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant is the largest in the U.S., producing over three gigawatts, 35% of Arizona’s total power capacity. It supplies electricity to Phoenix and Tucson, as well as San Diego and Los Angeles. It is a critical piece of strategic infrastructure; during the 2003 Iraq War, National Guard troops were deployed to Palo Verde to defend against a possible terrorist threat. In normal times, as with other nuclear installations, it is protected by armed security guards.
The armed guards, gates, fences and barriers were useless on the night of September 29th. According to the official report:
â€œOfficer noticed several drones (5 or 6) flying over the site. The drones are circling the 3 unit site inside and outside the Protected Area. The drones have flashing red and white rights [sic] and are estimated to be 200 to 300 hundred [sic] feet above the site. It was reported the drones had spotlights on while approaching the site that they turned off when they entered the Security Owner Controlled Area. Drones were first noticed at 20:50 MST and are still over the site as of 21:47 MST. Security Posture was normal, which was changed to elevated when the drones were noticed.â€
The drones departed at 22:30, eighty minutes after they were first spotted. The security officers estimated that they were over two feet in diameter. This indicates that they were not simply consumer drones like the popular DJI Phantom, which have a flight endurance of about half an hour and is about a foot across, but something larger and more capable. The Lockheed Martin Indago, a military-grade quadcopter recently sold to the Swiss Army, has a flight endurance of about seventy minutes and is more than two feet across. At several thousand dollars apiece minimum, these are far less expendable than consumer drones costing a few hundred. All of which suggests this was not just a prank.
The next night events were repeated:
â€œFour (4) drones were observed flying beginning at 20:51 MST and continuing through the time of this report (21:13 MST). As occurred last night, the drones are flying in, through, and around the owner-controlled area, the security owner-controlled area, and the protected area. Also, as last night, the drones are described as large with red and white flashing lights.â€
Local police from Maricopa County were dispatched to find the drone operators, but with no success. The site is reportedly due to receive drone detection gear, but not counter-drone jammers or other defensive equipment that might stop such incursions.
Despite this incident, two months later the NRC decided not to require drone defenses at nuclear plants, asserting that small drones could not damage a reactor or steal nuclear material. It is highly likely that such sites are still vulnerable to drone overflights.
22 Feb 2017
Birds of prey are being trained to prevent terror attacks in France, after being recruited by the country’s air force.
A team of four eagles is being trained to bring down remote-controlled drones when they stray into unauthorised airspace.
It is feared that terror groups could use drones – types of which can be bought from toy stores – packed with explosives to target civilians or military landmarks.
Experts believe training eagles to deal with threatening drones is far safer than using bullets to shoot them down.
Air force general Jean-Christophe Zimmerman told Reuters: ‘These eagles can spot the drones several thousand metres away and neutralize them.’
He said the idea came from police trials in the Netherlands.
The birds are being trained to grab or halt the drones. Before they hatched, they were placed on top of drones before being kept there during their early feeding period. …
Eagles have a grip 10 times more powerful than a human, making them ideal to deal with large unmanned drones.
09 Aug 2014
“I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.â€
— Barack Obama, Remarks by the President at Cairo University, 04 June 2009.
The nationality of the drone and that of the Muslims is unclear. Some sources identify the video as captured by an Israeli drone and the principals as Hamas fighters in Gaza. Others as a US drone overseeing Taliban supporters in Afghanistan.
There are more references to Israel, but I think it may be Afghanistan.
Back in 2009, Brian Mockenhaupt, in Esquire, wrote of US Predator drone pilots:
[T]hey see many things meant to be secret, like men having sex with sheep and goats in the deep of night. I first heard this from infantry soldiers and took it as rumor, but at Bagram I met a civilian contractor who works in UAV operations. â€œAll the time,â€ he said. â€œThey just donâ€™t think we can see them.â€ Which sums up a major allure of UAVs: Though they should know better by now, many insurgents still feel safe working in darkness or in the shelter of distant mountains and valleys, so they are exposed again and again. The unmanned planes have eroded their freedom of movement and simple early-warning systems, two of their few assets when outmatched in weapons, technology, and resources. Helicopters can be heard a mile or more away. Spotters watch vehicles leave bases and follow the slow advance of dismounted patrols. Surprise is a rarity for U. S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The insurgents almost always know theyâ€™re coming, with at least several minutesâ€™ notice. So they toss weapons behind a rock and become, in an instant, civilians. But with a camera parked three miles overhead, last-minute subterfuge doesnâ€™t work.
From Moonbattery via Vanderleun.
I have heard the exact same story from 3 different national guard servicemen who served in Iraq. They all belong to the same local national guard unit, but served non-overlapping tours. I am not sure if they know each other or not. The story goes that while on duty at night in Iraq, one of the other soldiers using night vision goggles saw an Iraqi man having sex with a goat and then all the other soldiers came and saw with their own night vision goggles. This strikes me as implausible that three different soldiers in three different years, 2003, 2006, and 2007, all saw something so bizarre.
08 Oct 2011
Noah Schachtman, at Wired’s Danger Room, broke the news of an extraordinary electronic warfare coup by an unnamed foreign adversary.
A computer virus has infected the cockpits of Americaâ€™s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilotsâ€™ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.
The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the militaryâ€™s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creechâ€™s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. militaryâ€™s most important weapons system.
â€œWe keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,â€ says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. â€œWe think itâ€™s benign. But we just donâ€™t know.â€
Military network security specialists arenâ€™t sure whether the virus and its so-called â€œkeyloggerâ€ payload were introduced intentionally or by accident; it may be a common piece of malware that just happened to make its way into these sensitive networks. The specialists donâ€™t know exactly how far the virus has spread. But theyâ€™re sure that the infection has hit both classified and unclassified machines at Creech. That raises the possibility, at least, that secret data may have been captured by the keylogger, and then transmitted over the public internet to someone outside the military chain of command. …
The GCSs handling more exotic operations are top secret. None of the remote cockpits are supposed to be connected to the public internet. Which means they are supposed to be largely immune to viruses and other network security threats.
But time and time again, the so-called â€œair gapsâ€ between classified and public networks have been bridged, largely through the use of discs and removable drives. In late 2008, for example, the drives helped introduce the agent.btz worm to hundreds of thousands of Defense Department computers. The Pentagon is still disinfecting machines, three years later.
Use of the drives is now severely restricted throughout the military. But the base at Creech was one of the exceptions, until the virus hit. Predator and Reaper crews use removable hard drives to load map updates and transport mission videos from one computer to another. The virus is believed to have spread through these removable drives. Drone units at other Air Force bases worldwide have now been ordered to stop their use.
In the meantime, technicians at Creech are trying to get the virus off the GCS machines. It has not been easy. At first, they followed removal instructions posted on the website of the Kaspersky security firm. â€œBut the virus kept coming back,â€ a source familiar with the infection says. Eventually, the technicians had to use a software tool called BCWipe to completely erase the GCSâ€™ internal hard drives. â€œThat meant rebuilding them from scratchâ€ â€” a time-consuming effort.
The Air Force declined to comment directly on the virus. â€œWe generally do not discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats, or responses to our computer networks, since that helps people looking to exploit or attack our systems to refine their approach,â€ says Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for Air Combat Command, which oversees the drones and all other Air Force tactical aircraft.
Reports I’ve read quoting the Wired ask the silly question: was the infection accidental or deliberate. No one else has mentioned the obvious suspect: China. The good news is that the infection is apparently confined specifically to Creech.