The RAF will use its new force of MQ-9 "Reaper" robo-planes to patrol the skies above the London Olympics in 2012, according to reports. The Herald of Scotland reports today that the five-tonne unmanned drones will fly above the capital providing surveillance as part of the enormous security effort planned for the Games. The …
I'd be surprised...
...because single-engine aircraft (manned or otherwise) are banned over the capital. Would require changes to CAA regs. It's why you can't take a Cessna 172 into City Airport and you never, ever see single engine light aircraft over London despite the number of small airfields circling the M25.
There's no way I'd want anything as dangerous as an unmanned, four tonne radio controlled toy with a rotten safety record buzzing around over my home. If this starts to look likely I hope that East End residents (as I belive Lewis is) will write to their MPs. I will.
What's wrong with just putting some actual policemen on the streets and backing them up with a helicopter?
I suppose they can help police the specical olymic lanes, stray into the way of a buerocrats' S0-class and get a few hellfires as well as 3 points and a fine.
And if this *cough* pilot scheme is successful...
...it will be rolled out to the rest of the UK on a permanent basis.
The CAA makes exceptions regularly... How many times have you seen the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfires and Hurricanes flying over Buckingham Palace; not to mention the Red Arrows? Yes, the BAe Hawk is a single-engined fast-jet trainer...
<-- "Crash & Burn" icon
Not going to look good when one of them comes crashing down on London is it?
Yes, I've always wondered about that. You can't fly a single engined fixed wing aircraft (which can glide and select a relatively uncluttered spot to crash on in case of engine failure) over an area because of the risk, but a single rotor Helicopter (which is restricted to some very minor variations on "down quickly" if something goes wrong) is permitted.
In fact, most drones (the Reaper included) are designed to operate their surveillance systems from high altitude where they can't be seen from the ground. That coupled with the high aspect-ratio wing (giving good glide angle characteristics) means that it should be much easier to put a failed drone down in a field somewhere a considerable distance away rather than on, say, a large stadium full of people.
Finally, if something were to drop on my house, I'd rather it were a Reaper than a Whirlybird in its death throes. The lack of rapidly moving blades in this scenario is a bit of an advantage.
What the hell is the point?
We have more cameras in London that anywhere else in the world, and now they want UAVs? What the Hell for? Is a UAV going to spot a terrorist with a backpack? No. Is it going to spot a car or truck bomb? No. Is it going to give Big Brother a new toy to play with? Oh yes.
Body heat detected! -Is it Paris?
Even though this is obvious RFTM material, there are so many other juicy parts here:
"The machines are fitted with a multi-spectral telescopic imaging system, able to detect a human's body heat and see in the dark."
I feel a bit sorry for people that need to make air drones to detect body heat from other humans. Lets hope they at least have a healthy stack of Paris Hilton pictures.
"It's thought that the MQ-9s will operate within an air exclusion zone in order to help prevent collisions with other aircraft. The drones are handled remotely by fully-qualified pilots..."
These so called fully-qualified pilots need an exclusive air zone to avoid colliding with other planes? Then I don't trust the pilots or the drones, I'll leave it to the RAF to tell me which one. What is a "full-qualified" pilot anyway? Qualified is something you either are or you are not. Is this the Register language, or is it military talk? "Fully-dead personnel will get one week leave to inform their next of kin if they fill in and file form XR-3314."
"The RAF doesn't arm its own MQ-9s at present, but may do so in future."
The future as in summer 2012?
Does the C in CAA not stand of 'Civil' ? Last I looked RAF was military but of course, it could have been outsourced in a private funding initiative.
At mr L
I'd imagine that a fully-qualified pilot is one who has passed his private pilots license, a comercial pilots license (or may be a military equivalent), various exams, getting the requisite hours flight time logged, further training for flying in clouds, ensuring that you keep your training and number of flight hours up to date as I believe they can expire, and no doubt extra training for flying UAV. Therefore someone who just has their Private pilot license would be deepend a qualified pilot but not fully qualified to handle a UAV, simple really.
I imagine that the air exclusion zone isn't really intended to protect the UAV pilots but to protect other pilots who probably aren't expecting a drone to be flying around and which may well be harder to detect than a normal plane.
Reapers in Afghanistan
If the Reapers they own are currently in Afghanistan, does that mean that the powers that be expect peace in that region by 2012? Some chance. No doubt they'll be in Korea or Syria or Iran, or any other country that the US doesn't like the look of.
Bearing in mind I'm fully expecting cloud ceilings at about 20ft and permanent rain - we'd better get used to ducking as these things whizz around.
Fifteen seconds to comply...
And what exactly will they be able to see with this? In the desert they work because there isn't a couple of million inebriates milling around. Not so in the urban sprawl of inner city London.
Never mind the inebriates..
..what about the commercial aircraft in the same airspace? I'm sure the air traffic controllers will be delighted, assuming they will have communication with the RAF...
Potentially self financing...
All they have to do is fit a broadcast quality cam with a serious zoom and they can use it to take stadium shots which the TV companies will shell out for...
Good point. I was too busy spluttering tea over my metaphorical breakfast Telegraph while shouting NIMBY to think of that.
@TeeCee: At least with the helicopter there's a human pilot on board who might have some chance of guiding it to a park, or at least slowing the descent. I take your point about the glide ratio.
good stuff ...
announce their presence over 4 years in advance of the event to give any would be terrorists / mischief - makers plenty of time to work on a hack which could grant them control of the airborne immolators.
"You can't fly a single engined fixed wing aircraft (which can glide and select a relatively uncluttered spot to crash on in case of engine failure) over an area because of the risk, but a single rotor Helicopter (which is restricted to some very minor variations on "down quickly" if something goes wrong) is permitted"
Just because helicopters have one rotor, doesn't mean they all have one engine. Don't know regulations in the UK, but in NL you need to have two engines to go over built-areas.
A quick seach on CAA and requirements found me this:
By the way, in case of an engine failure helicopters can still autorotate:
RAF is gagging for good PR at the moment
I suppose they're going to be more acceptable than low flying Nimrods......
I think the real purpose is to make the athletes from third world countries nervous so they win fewer medals.
"""In fact, most drones (the Reaper included) are designed to operate their surveillance systems from high altitude where they can't be seen from the ground. That coupled with the high aspect-ratio wing (giving good glide angle characteristics) means that it should be much easier to put a failed drone down in a field somewhere a considerable distance away rather than on, say, a large stadium full of people."""
That assumes that you have a powertrain failure - if the electronics go out it could very well fly itself full tilt into the stadium and the operators wouldn't be able to do anything.
But honestly, what the hell do they expect to see from the air? A bunch of people trying to watch a giant sporting match?
Maybe they could use them for high-angle TV shots of events and sell the feeds to networks, thereby maybe making some money... I imagine that a UAV would be a hell of a lot better than a blimp, which is what they typically use in the US.
And I doubt that they'd be armed. The article doesn't even say that the UK Reapers in Afganistan are armed - just that the US ones are.
UAVs vs. Blimp
As an American, I am offended that our blimps are considered inferior for top-down cameras vs. UAVs.
How large a tyre advert can you stick on the bottom of a UAV?
Just how much...
surveilance can you do from 50000ft when there is 10/10th cloud cover from 3000ft over London (typical UK summer)?
And if they come down to have a look. Reaper pilot "What is this I see before me? Tis a Jumbo, and another one, and another one, and a.....Whoops.
A nice little earner...
Has anyone bought any life insurance on behalf of the javeliners or the shot-putters or the hammer throwers yet ?? And then there are the archers and shooters !! Money for old rope when the Reapers come by and zap them for their "offensive actions" !!