Thanks Technology

Texas buys military grade UAVs for police use.

I have a love hate relationship with UAVs. They are an amazing tool in the hands of the military, particularly when employed against forces that lack sophisticated knowledge of high end electronics and programming.

But even enemy forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have made strides in interfering with the operations of drones. Most notably a $28 dollar hack that let insurgents pull the feeds that were being sent unencrypted and allowing them to redeploy their forces out of danger before friendly forces could act. We have seen Narco-cartels, hackers, scientists and private citizens use drones for their own purposes. It was just a matter of time that the police would eventually use some.

In Texas, police have begun to acquire Shadowhawk drones initially for the laudable purpose of searching for missing persons. The quarter million dollar tool is being sold without the military grade weaponry. But as, The Blaze, points out, the drone may one day be employing an attachable 40mm grenade launcher (like those of the rifle mounted M203 and belt fed Mk-19) to employ less than lethal munitions including riot gas.

In my opinion, overhead surveillance is a breach of personal privacy and while appropriate on a battlefield, it becomes more dubious when used in policing. However, law enforcement has been using overhead surveillance for years in the visible spectrum and beyond. This will only be another method.

What we will soon experience is the hacking of such drones. The police will unlikely be able to afford to encrypt their drones’ command stream with the efficacy of the military, nor be able to employ the amount of support personnel that the military does. Once employed over one of the most technologically advanced civilizations in the world, it will only be a matter of time before some police agency loses control of its drone. And those methods will be watched by non American actors. Our world is constantly evolving, and as conflict moves more and more onto digital battlefields and robotic warriors that very technology is now the modern equivalent of the sword. Like swords, these weapons have two edges.

-RELATED : Fighting in the Fifth Dimension-


(Sources: The Blaze, Al Jazeera)



  1. lordshipmayhem says

    You have no idea how forest firefighters would kill to have this technology – and because wildfires rampaging through forests and grasslands don’t hack computers, the need for military grade encryption is far lower on the scale of importance.

    They would find this incredibly useful in tracking and assessing the danger from the raging fires that start up in our forests every year. Some you let burn, others are far too close to populated areas and need to find and get on top of as soon as possible.

    Of course they’re unlikely to get this in Texas, thanks to Governor Perry’s cutting of budgets for this type of firefighting.

  2. melior says

    Dear baby Jeezus

    Please watch over our fearless drone pilots
    As they selflessly risk carpal tunnel syndrome
    Grant them the medals for bravery and valor they so deserve
    And preserve their plausible deniability

    • says

      You will pray for the dones when some desk jockeky nails some dudes running on your flank that you didn’t see. Oddly enough Drone flyers have some of the highest PTSD rates in the military.

  3. NoAstronomer says

    “…it will only be a matter of time before some police agency loses control of its drone. And those methods will be watched by non American actors.”

    I would actually expect ‘non-American’ actors to be the first to experiment with this. Better here than on a battlefield.

  4. Kate from Iowa says

    Gee, who knew the police were having so much trouble shooting unarmed, retarded, black teenagers on thier way home from work in the back that they’d now need an $X-million dollar grenade-launching drone to help them out with that?

      • astrosmash says

        The police should not be anywhere near these things until the rampant abuses nationwide are brought under wraps.

        • Kate from Iowa says

          Yeah. Wish that would actually happen, but it won’t. One look at Ed’s and Balko’s blogs and you see so many instances that it is steadily getting worse. It shouldn’t be a job where the guys that were always the worst of the most hateful bullies you know get the guns, you know? But seems to be that’s what ends up rolling out of the academy.

  5. says


    No, but it does have software to detect whether the missing person is a prostitute, at which time it abandons its search, flies back to base, and informs the victim’s family that s/he’ll “probably turn up eventually.”

    I followed that link and now I can’t get this out of my brain:
    An exhaustive investigation of Mr. Pickton’s pig farm after he was arrested in 2002 turned up Ms. Drew’s DNA on a syringe filled with windshield-wiper fluid.

    Uh. Uh. uh.

    Yeah, the whores in uniform probably just figured it was one less un-uniformed whore for them to worry about.

    I am going to get a brainwash now.

  6. F says

    Of course. Get a mil-style drone. It’s not like these things could have been purpose-built for civil service reasons twenty years ago or anything. Or cobbled together by police departments themselves. Sure, sensor technology is much improved these days, but scaling up RF-controlled aircraft is nothing new.

    My biggest problem with the military use of drones is that they so often seem to kill the wrong people when used as weapons. Mostly because they have replaced other tools and methods for making the same mistakes. Nothing inherently wrong with the tech, but drones do make it easier to make mistakes in situations where if there were no drones, no action would have been taken anyway. It doesn’t really matter what the weapon is, someone is going to hit the wrong target eventually. Drones just make fucking up easier, same as they make reconnaissance and “surgical” strikes easier, without putting our soldiers in harm’s way (at least in the immediate sense of “harm’s way).

    • says

      /agree. My unit only employes drones when we have someone on the ground call it in. We also do the due diligence and ensure to the best of our abilities that collateral damage is limited. So far so good. Non-observed UAV strikes is a different shop than the army unless the unit is retarded. But retared units can kill civis in hundreds of ways.

  7. says

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