A drone pilot faced next to no hurdles while landing his $500 Parrot Bebop drone on Britain’s largest warship – HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Last month, the unnamed drone pilot managed to capture a video footage of the landing on the 920ft carrier docked at Scottish Highlands port Invergordon and then took a few snapshots of the warship before posting them on Facebook.
The pilot then managed to take off again without facing any challenges and flew the drone back to Newhall Point on the Black Isle in Highland, where it took off from. Footage from the drone’s camera shows it was cruising over the enormous empty ship before landing.
The pilot who chose to stay anonymous faced no resistance as he landed said: “I was amazed that I was able to land on the aircraft. She is worth a lot of money and I suppose I could have been the Taliban, or anything.”
According to the pilot there were two reasons for landing his drone on the warship’s deck:
- The first being that there was no-one about to prevent it from landing despite the presence of security police boats who had noticed the drone.
- The second reason was of technical nature as the drone’s control system advised him to land after receiving a high wind warning.
Surprised by the lack of security concern the pilot drove to Invergordon and attempted to speak to the port security to pass message to the captain about what he had done but no one from the security personnel seemed too concerned.
“I was only able to speak to some heavily armed police, I think from the MoD, and they said there was no one available on the carrier as they were at dinner ashore.”
He says if the MoD were in any way concerned by this activity then the footage and pictures would have never been allowed to be posted and taken down.
Based on the footage, the pilot also concludes that the ship had no aircraft on board, and that he would have never been able to fly close to a mile within the ship if the defence systems capable of blocking radio signals were operational.
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Jamie Stone said he was concerned at the security implications of drones and is considering formulating a question in parliament regarding the incident.
Jamie said: “I think the moral of this astonishing tale is that there is a serious question about security for the Royal Navy for it would have been quite easy for someone of evil intent to do something quite serious. Even a drone crashing into its radar could cause damage.”
He plans to follow up on this issue once he returns to Westminster.
Capabilities of HMS Queen Elizabeth
The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, the largest warship in British naval history cost £3 billion to build. With an estimated life span of fifty years, HMS Queen Elizabeth could be summoned for various high intensity tasks such as naval as well as aerial warfare and providing humanitarian aid anywhere in the world.
The warship has a capacity of housing up to 36 F-35B fighter jets and various heavy duty helicopters such as the Apache and Chinook on board. It can hold a total of 50 aircraft at full capacity and with expansion it can go up to 70 aircraft. It can provide accomodations for around 679 staff along with 1000 troops and flight crew.
Each aircraft carrier is capable of providing the armed forces with a fully operational military operating base, with the capability to deploy worldwide.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth will be on its naval trials until 2020, and is expected to be ready for active duty by 2021.
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