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MoD Police Try Out UAV

Copyright: UK MoD
by Staff Writers
Wethersfield, UK (SPX) Feb 17, 2009
In recent years Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been used in a number of high profile military deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the technology has been adapted for domestic use and is attracting the interest of a number of Police Forces and other civilian agencies.

Merseyside Police and British Transport Police have already introduced UAVs into service and many others, including the MOD Police (MDP), are actively researching their use.

Representatives of one of the manufacturers of such vehicles were invited to MDP HQ in Wethersfield, Essex, recently to provide a practical demonstration of the equipment's capabilities.

This was attended by MDP's Director of Operational Support, Assistant Chief Constable John Bligh, officers from MDP Operational Support Unit (South) [OSU(S)], which has been leading on the project, representatives of the Metropolitan Police Service and Essex Police, and a number of other interested parties.

The UAVs on display could be packed into a suitcase, take minutes to assemble and launch and can accommodate various payloads using quick-release fixings.

Batteries are used to power small electric motors which, in turn, drive a number of propellers. The platform is controlled like a model aeroplane and uses a digital radio control unit.

It can fly using GPS (Global Positioning Sysyem) or an optical system, which can be viewed through a laptop and/or flight goggles. It also has autonomous flight and navigation capabilities, allowing it to self-position and self-stabilise should it be blown off course.

The platform can carry a variety of payloads including a daylight colour video camera, a dawn low light camera, a high definition still camera, an infrared camera, and various other kinds of detection equipment for the monitoring of contaminated areas.

The OSU(S) team, which has been assessing the equipment from a police perspective, has suggested a number of possible uses within MDP, including the monitoring of crowds during public order operations, monitoring on-going spontaneous incidents, target reconnaissance and property surveys.

A report is being prepared for consideration by the Agency Management Board, explaining the procurement options, including comparative costs and the likely deployment of such equipment, if acquired. A final decision on procurement is expected next year.

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