Drone found in attack on US electrical grid this past year, report reveals

A modified consumer drone was found in an attack on a power substation in america last year, according to a report from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center.

The report, which has been circulated to police agencies in america, highlights the incident at a substation in Pennsylvania last year as the first known use of a drone to focus on energy infrastructure in america. The location isn’t specifically identified, but the drone crashed without triggering damage.

The drone was modified with a trailing tether supporting a amount of copper wire. If the wire had touch high-voltage equipment it might have caused a short circuit, equipment failures and perhaps fires.


The device is comparable in concept to ”blackout bombs” used by the united states Air Force, without any explosive but scatter masses of conductive filaments over electrical equipment. We were holding used to turn off 70 per cent of Serbia’s electricity generation capacity in 1999 through the Kosovo war.

Read more: Drones may have attacked humans fully autonomously for the very first time

Electrical substations are usually protected by fences and other barriers, but Zak Kallenborn at the National Consortium for the analysis of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism in Maryland says these might not exactly be satisfactory against drones.

“Counter-terrorism defences largely assume a ground-based attacker. Hence the fences and bollards everywhere,” says Kallenborn. “The defences are obsolete if terrorists may take to the air. Drones are cheap, and easy to use. Critical infrastructure facilities have to worry about attacks from any direction.”

Counter-drone jammers are deployed at some locations but cannot defend every electrical substation, because of both cost and limitations on where they can be used. Kallenborn notes that while such drones only carry a little payload compared to a car bomb, they can result in a disproportionate amount of damage by targeting vulnerable spots.

“Critical infrastructure owners and operators need to identify critical, sensitive pieces where small charges could cause significant injury to the facility’s operation,” says Kallenborn.

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