Threat Intelligence

Commercial drones are threat to UK civilians

The Oxford Research Group has cautioned that commercial drones are a terrorist threat and that new laws should confine what they have the capacity to carry. They also want the government to pay for military-style lasers to shoot drones down and build jamming and early-warning systems for UK police. 

The group's report The hostile use of drones by non-state actors against British targets says: “Fortunately, there have so far been very few instances of individual terrorists using drones to undertake attacks.” However, the Fars News Agency claimed that Hezbollah carried out a successful drone strike in September 2014 that killed 23 Syrian rebels.

The report covers several reasons why commercial drones don't represent threats to civilians in the UK. Commercial drones require line-of-sight a majority of the time, forcing the operator to be close to the victims. Their flight time is also limited since they are battery-operated. Only high-end drones can take rain or wind well, proving that they are not very resilient. Extra weight that could cause physical threat would likely decrease flight time and payload capacity, “unless power or the number of rotors was also increased”.

The average flight time of the 200 examined commercial drones was 18 minutes, with an average range of 1,400 meters and price of £390. Commercial drones are thus only a real danger if a terrorist group were to build a completely new drone, however the report recommends that the UK government treat them as if they were.

A year ago, a select UK committee recommended a registration requirement for civilian drones, but nothing has been done yet. 

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