US helicopter pilots claim a highly customized drone “performed like no other” in eluding capture. The facts of an inquiry into illegal drone activities that occurred in Tuscon, Arizona, in February were published Tuesday by records obtained by a military, defense, and geopolitics website, the details of which suggest exceedingly unusual drone behavior.
US chopper pilots claim a highly customized drone “performed like no other”
The flight crew that saw the drone, according to the Tuscon Police Department’s case description released by The War Zone, said it “was very sophisticated/specialized and able to perform like no other (unmanned aircraft system).”
The event was also examined by the FBI under statutes relating to the unsafe operating of an unmanned aircraft.
A drone was detected flying illegally close to a US Customs and Border Protection helicopter west of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, according to an FBI statement, prompting local law officials to look for the drone’s operator. Authorities were unsuccessful in their attempts to track down the drone and its pilot.
“The drone appeared to launch from an area about 5 miles south of Tucson and flew across Tucson and north over Marana,” the FBI said. “No one was injured and no other similar incidents have been reported involving this specific drone.”
The drone made “erratic maneuvers” and entered military airspace at a height of 14,000 feet with speeds of over 100 mph while outrunning both Tucson Police and CPD helicopters, according to the report. While the crew thought that the unmanned aircraft’s battery would be depleted during the hour-long chase by two police helicopters, it was able to escape.
“It was obvious that the controller had clear sight of both the helicopters pursuing it by the manner it would orbit us and abruptly fly behind us and attempt to evade our visual contact,” the pilot from Tucson Police wrote in the report.
CPD and Tucson Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from *Newsweek* in time for publication. Although none of the flight crews were able to get a decent view of the drone, they did notice a single green light on its underbody. Its flight skills indicate that it has been heavily modified.
“Although we could not determine its exact size or characteristics we primarily tracked it by a single green non-blinking light illuminating from the craft,” the report said.
While the drone(s) did not come into direct contact with an airliner or compel a pilot to perform an evasive maneuver, the FBI stated that the acts were illegal and exceedingly dangerous.
It is unclear from the reports what kind of drone this could have been. It seems hard to believe that any of the currently available off-the-shelf (pro)consumer drones would be able to fly at these speeds and execute these kinds of manouvres. it is also unclear if this “high modified drone” was at all battery-powered. The one-hour long flight seems to indicate that it not powered by typical LiPo batteries. Furthermore, a highly skilled pilot must have been at the controls of the drone considering that it was flying circles around the helicopters.
We will keep following this story and provide you with updates as more information becomes available.
The FBI is investigating the near-miss of a high powered drone and a @CBPArizona helicopter near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The special agent I just interviewed says this is the first of its kind case in #Tucson. @KOLDNews @whatsuptucson pic.twitter.com/WoSMuh8oX2
— Dan Marries (@DanMarriesKOLD) May 20, 2021
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