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Modified DJI Mavic 2 drone found near electrical substation

Modified DJI Mavic 2 drone found near electrical substation

A government document revealed that an unknown entity tried to take down a portion of the electrical system with a drone strike last summer. A modified DJI Mavic 2 drone with a large copper wire was discovered near a high-voltage substation. It is the first known instance of this sort of assault in the United States.

Modified DJI Mavic 2 drone found near electrical substation

According to a joint security assessment recently made public by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the event occurred in the US state of Pennsylvania in July.

According to the article, during their job, electrical company personnel came up with a crashed DJI Mavic 2 with a nylon rope to which a thick copper wire was connected. The camera had been removed from the drone, and an effort had been made to obscure the serial number.

The drone was most likely used to target the electrical substation. Bringing the copper cable close to the electrical wires might have resulted in a short circuit, putting thousands of households’ power supply at risk.

Modified DJI Mavic 2 drone found near electrical substation

A map of the terrain where the drone was discovered is shown on the left. The modified DJI Mavic 2 drone is on the right.

The first documented case

“This is the first known case where a modified UAS [unmanned aerial vehicle] has been used in the United States to specifically target energy infrastructure,” the security services said. “We consider it likely that the drone found near an electrical substation was intended to disrupt the power supply by creating a short circuit, causing damage to transformers or distribution lines, given the location and the modifications to the aircraft.”

It is yet unknown if the modified DJI Mavic 2 drone was able to disable the power source. It’s also unclear if there’s any relation to earlier instances. Drones, for example, were seen for numerous nights in 2019 at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the biggest nuclear power facility in the United States. Even then, no one could be found who was responsible.

The increasing risk from drones

Security experts warn that the risk of consumer drones being exploited to carry out strikes on civilian or military targets is real and growing, according to ABC News.

“The technology has become so widespread that terrorists and drug gangs are making full use of drones to carry out attacks and smuggle drugs.”

Green Peace crashed a drone near a French nuclear power station in 2018 to raise attention to the inadequacy of such plants’ security. A racing drone crashed on the premises of a South African nuclear power facility in 2016. There was no malice involved.

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This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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