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Wednesday, 09 August 2023


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Bullets don't just stop in mid-air and they would still have most of their energy and mass after disabling a drone. If this really happened, I hope eliminating the competition was worth potentially killing some uninvolved person.

[Wouldn't you imagine they have some sort of technology for dealing with drones that doesn't endanger the population? We could ask, but I'm pretty sure we wouldn't get an answer. --Mike]

Made me wonder about something. Are inmates using drones to bring contraband into prisons yet? Seems like someone would have tried by now.

For those who don't 'get it', the other agency "thought to be in Langley" is the CIA. FWIW there are phone apps for drone operators, one of which is "Before You Fly", which you are supposed to check before launching your drone. It tells you whether it is 'safe to fly' at your current location, IOW are there any restrictions on the air space. I am pretty sure (99.9999%) that the air space within at least a mile or so around CIA HQ is restricted. Had he checked the app he would have been told he couldn't fly there.

(Horshach voice) "Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know!" I am currently working on a project to create a *very* high power microwave beam to do just this.

The legality of this is dubious, federal agency or not. FAA clearly defines airspace that is prohibited, airspace that is controlled, and airspace that is uncontrolled. A Part 107 licensed commercial drone pilot has resources to determine which and request authorization for airspace that is controlled (or even prohibited in some cases). Operating a drone commercially without a part 107 license is not legal so I assume your friend is licensed and followed procedures to ensure he/she received authorization to fly in any controlled airspace. The legality of shooting down a legally operated drone is about the same as shooting out the tires of cars passing by on the highway just in case they had a peek through the fence.

There's a lot of anti-drone technology likely much more effective than simple kinetic bullets and without risk to neighbors. The use of sharpshooters may simply be a surmise.

Sounds like target practice...Technology and hardware is being used on the Ukraine battlefield today to disable unfriendly drones. And correctional facilities have been using technology for a number of years to mitigate unauthorized drones. You'd think that the CIA, most of all, would have as its disposal such anti-drone weaponery.

Mike: I wrote to CIA Public Affairs . . . The website says they read every inquiry sent to them. I'll let you know if I get a response.

If your site suddenly goes dark, we’ll be able to infer the response.

"The website says they read every inquiry sent to them. I'll let you know if I get a response."

They probably WILL respond, just not by Email...

Listen for a knock on the door at 3am tomorrow.

Replying to James Bullard: James, you seem to be assuming that the incident in question took place in Langley, VA, but the story as told by Mike does not say that. It does not mention the location of the incident. The reference to the unnamed agency's HQ being in Langley seems to be no more than a way of hinting that the CIA is the agency in question, but the incident could have occurred near any CIA installation anywhere in the country, many of which are not marked on maps. Since we don't know where the incident occurred, it's unclear whether an app would have known about this particular location.

The CIA is prohibited by law from operating in the USA. Therefore it must be another agency. Perhaps the FBI or maybe the military.

The CIA is indeed headquartered in Langley, Virginia. It has its own exit from the George Washington Parkway, with big green signs.
But just where is the Federal Highway Administration located- and who are their neighbors?
There is (for obvious reasons) a great deal of restricted airspace in the Washington, D.C. area. Anybody flying a drone there (or anywhere) who doesn't heed the rules deserves whatever happens.

Modern commercial drones have access to FAA or someone's service that tells them where they can't fly, and have GPS chips so they know where they are, and they just don't fly there (according to a friend of mine who uses them commercially, explaining some things when we were discussing a photo). So...I don't believe that if the CIA is willing to shoot down drones, they haven't listed the area as off-limits to drones. So I can't really believe the story as given. (Also I don't for a second believe the limit on operating domestically is always rigidly adhered to. And the actual law there probably isn't as simple as was claimed.)

If they were going to shoot down small observation drones, they'd use a shotgun. Falling birdshot pellets aren't particularly dangerous, having pellets rain down on you is a not-uncommon hunting experience.

We can bring down drones in the UK without shooting at them. I’m sure our “spooks” would share the details if asked.

For what it's worth, my drone's controller software combined with its GPS prevents me from flying in prohibited airspace.

I doubt if the CIA is prohibited from taking action to secure its headquarters from unidentified unmanned cameras hovering in the sky!

I don't think I'll be coming back here daily to click 'refresh'


I had no idea until now that FHWA & CIA are so close to each other, that they essentially share a parking lot.

Also I’m somewhat excited to read of their likely Glomar response to your inquiry.

["Government agencies have instituted a practice known widely as the 'Glomar response' in which they neither confirm nor deny the existence of responsive information. While it is widely recognized as legitimate, there is also public skepticism about this practice, particularly regarding national security." (National Archives) --Mike]

"Are inmates using drones to bring contraband into prisons yet? Seems like someone would have tried by now."

Yes, according to this video https://youtu.be/FO2uwELEB1A?t=4984

Replying to Craig: I have a drone and I use "Before you fly" to tell me where I am allowed or not allowed to fly. It is part of the training to be a drone pilot, even a hobbyist one. The app knows (via GPS) where you are and knows where the controlled air spaces are around you. It doesn't always tell you why you can't fly here or there but all the restricted areas are mapped. If you don't check and are caught flying in a no-fly space, it's on you.

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