UK to use drones against Russian threats during Commonwealth Games

UK drones Commonwealth Games

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be deploying specialized drones to protect next month’s Commonwealth Games against potential Russian attacks, in what officials fear could be retaliatory action against London’s staunch support of Ukraine amid Moscow’s continuing invasion.

UK authorities are clearly concerned about potentially malevolent activity by Russia during the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and are planning a major security operation that will include using the specialized drones for the first time. Tech aboard those craft, according to reports, allow them to capture or destroy enemy UAVs by using lasers and other weapons systems to take out their GPS.

Read: Begging to differ with US ban, UK’s MoD buys DJI drones 

Given the prominent role of drones by both sides in the Ukraine war, UK special forces are said to have already started testing the new platform in anticipation of Russian deployment of UAVs during the Commonwealth Games. Other small craft will also be flown to provide authorities aerial views of any potential attack activities unfolding on the ground. 

Given Moscow’s previous, often brazen strikes in the UK – including the 2006 radiation poisoning and eventual killing of exiled ex-intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko – the nation’s secret services are preventively preparing for possible malfeasance. That includes cyberattacks, assassinations, or plots to release nerve agents by Russian operatives in response to London’s activist backing and arming of Ukraine. 

Deployment of drones at the July 28 to August 8 Commonwealth Games was first mentioned by a UK official as concerns about potentially malicious Russian actions began looming larger. In response to a question from another legislator this month, UK MoD parliamentary under-secretary James Heappey noted that in addition to the usual security assets that would be activated during the event, “explosive ordinance disposal capabilities and counter-unmanned aerial systems” would be provided.

ReadUK’s MoD shapes its UAV future with Skydio drones 

UK reports quoting anonymous MoD sources this week specify the latter platforms as specialized anti-drone UAVs making their Russian-inspired debut at the Commonwealth Games.

Other preventive measures detailed involve deployment of 1,000 members of the armed forces, at least 30 Special Air Service (SAS) agents, snipers, and armed experts from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment patrolling within crowds. 

“All of the attacks we are preparing for have already been carried out by the Russians, either in the UK or in other western countries,” one MoD source told the Daily Star. “The SAS are leaving nothing to chance and there is a risk that Russia may try and disrupt the Games… It is easy to see how President (Vladimir) Putin would want to punish the UK for supplying weapons to Ukraine.”


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