Posts Tagged Drone Crash Database
Brazil has bought four Hermes 450 drones for surveillance over stadiums of the FIFA World Cup football matches to commence in June, 2014. Intended to prevent terrorism during the games, no good case has been made that the Brazilian games will be targets of terrorism. Or that the drones will be useful in preventing it. Rather, the drones are more likely to be used monitoring protests that are sparked by the matches and Brazilian government policies, and building a ‘security state’. People attending the matches can expect pervasive surveillance, from drones overhead to facial recognition cameras on the ground.
As well, there may be a need to protect football fans and nearby residents from the drones themselves. Hermes 450 drones do not appear to have received widely accepted certification to fly in civilian air space,** although the Israeli government has certified them in Israel. Last year, during the Confederations Cup matches, Brazilian officials appear to have acknowledged this failing by planning to restrict civilian air traffic near the game venues.
British-Israeli Watchkeeper drones (which are based on the Hermes 450) have been recently certified by the UK to fly in civilian airspace but the technology that permitted this to occur does not appear to have been incorporated into the Hermes 450 drones sold to Brazil. There has been an effort worldwide to make drones safe to fly in populated airspace, including large European government subsidies documented by Statewatch and the Transnational Institute.
Drones in general have a much higher crash rate than piloted aircraft, and several Hermes 450 drones crashes have been recorded from a relatively small worldwide fleet.
Hermes 450 drones have been widely used by Israel for surveillance and assassinations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. So often used that Elbit Systems advertises their products as ‘conflict tested’.
Elbit Systems has a strong marketing programme in South America and has sold drones to several countries.
Brazil appears to have paid $25 million for the four drones.
**If anyone knows differently, please let me know.
Drone Wars UK recently published a briefing paper (Israel and the Drone Wars: New Briefing from Drone Wars UK) that describes the Israeli drones industry, and Israel’s contribution to the proliferation of drones worldwide.
Drone Wars UK states that it “aims to be a source of information on the growing use of armed drones.” It has become the most credible source of information on drones in the UK, and one of the best sources of information on drones in the world.
It maintains a growing database of large drone crashes world wide.
The loss of a super secret US spy drone recently in Iran has drawn attention to the unreliability of drones. The Drones Crash Database has catalogued a large number of known drone crashes, and there must have been many more crashes and ‘loss of control events’ which are unreported in conflict zones like Afghanistan.
Anna Mulrine, of the Christian Science Monitor, reported recently in Alaska Dispatch.com, on the problem of unreliable drones.
One of the problems of drones is the long and complicated communication networks needed to control drones remotely, and their vulnerability to failure and disruption. Another problem is the two second delay that occurs in electronic signals from drone operators in the US to drone being used in Central Asia or the Middle East, and back again. (Much like the scene in a digital camera that changes after the shutter is pressed but before the picture is taken a drone operator is always two seconds behind what is happening where the drone is).
Blogger Jeffery Carr, has reported on studies by the US government that detail the reliability of drones. Drones are particularly vulnerable to disruption in satellite communications, and may be vulnerable to cyber attacks, which is the technique that Iran claims to have used to capture the American MQ-170 drone earlier this month.
David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen, re-reporting information published in the Christian Science Monitor describes an Iranian scientist who claims that Iran reprogrammes GPS coordinate and jams satellite communications to trick American drones into landing.
Interestingly, there have been no new drone strikes in Pakistan in the past month, though this is likely due more to the fallout of from the disintegrating relations with Pakistan than concerns over drones being captured.
Drones (unarmed aerial vehicles, or remotely piloted aircraft) crash at an alarming rate. Disarmingman has created a database of crashes of large drones around the world.
Drones are increasingly touted as solutions for a wide variety of surveillance and monitoring problems and the number of drones in the world is proliferating wildly. Pressure is increasing to have drones licensed to fly in airspace over populated regions, so that drones can be used for such prosaic purposes as traffic monitoring. The Drones Crash Database makes sobering reading.