A True Atrocity

Man charged in plot to bomb Pentagon with model airplane

It looks to me that the sad day we all knew would eventually come has arrived. The first person that I have heard of plotting to use R/C planes to bomb the Pentagon and the Capital building. It appears he was planning to use some kind of autopilot given that they stated the plane was to be "GPS guided". Below is a link to the CNN page that has the details. I only hope this doesn't lead to a complete lock down of the R/C and sUAS industry. It is so young and ripe for growth and innovation. 



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  • Here is the parallel discussion from earlier:


  • 3D Robotics

    Update from the Associated Press. Good, sensible stuff from a congressman at the bottom:


    "Counterterrorism experts and model-aircraft hobbyists said it would be nearly impossible to inflict large-scale damage of the sort Ferdaus allegedly envisioned using model planes. The aircraft are too small, can't carry enough explosives and are too tricky to fly, they said.

    "The idea of pushing a button and this thing diving into the Pentagon is kind of a joke, actually," said Greg Hahn, technical director of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

    Rick Nelson, a former Navy helicopter pilot who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Ferdaus would have had to hit a window or other vulnerable area to maximize damage, and that would have taken precision flying.

    "Flying a remote-controlled plane isn't as easy as it actually looks, and then to put an explosive on it and have that explosive detonate at the time and place that you want it add to the difficulty of actually doing it," he said.

    Ferdaus, a Muslim American from Ashland, was arrested after federal agents posing as al-Qaida members delivered what he believed was 24 pounds of C-4 explosive, authorities said. He was charged with attempting to damage or destroy a federal building with explosives. A federal affidavit claims he began planning "jihad" against the U.S. in early 2010 after becoming convinced through jihadi websites and videos that America was evil.

    Ferdaus had a physics degree from Northeastern University and enjoyed "taking stuff apart" and "learning on my own," according to court papers.

    The model planes Ferdaus eyed were the F-4 Phantom and the F-86 Sabre, small-scale versions of military jets, investigators said. The F-4 is the more expensive of the two, at up to $20,000, Hahn said. The F-86, one of which Ferdaus actually obtained, costs $6,000 to $10,000 new.

    Ferdaus' plan, as alleged in court papers, was to launch three such planes from a park near the Pentagon and Capitol and use GPS to direct them toward the buildings, where they would detonate on impact and blow the Capitol dome to "smithereens." He planned to pack five pounds of plastic explosives on each plane, according to prosecutors.

    James Crippin, an explosives and anti-terrorism expert, said that much C-4 could do serious damage — a half-pound will obliterate a car. But he said getting a stable explosive like C-4 to blow up at the right time would have been hugely difficult.

    And there were slim prospects of causing any serious damage to buildings like the Pentagon and Capitol, which are undoubtedly hardened to withstand explosions, according to Crippin, director of the Western Forensic Law Enforcement Training Center.

    "Basically, I think he's suffering from delusions of grandeur," he said.

    Hahn said the heavier of the two models Ferdaus was allegedly planning to use could carry a maximum of two pounds of plastic explosive before malfunctioning. That's not including the weight of any GPS system, he added.

    "It's almost impossible for him to get this done," he said.

    Remote-controlled aircraft have been considered by terrorists before. In 2008, Christopher Paul of Worthington, Ohio, a Columbus suburb, pleaded guilty to plotting terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Europe using explosive devices. Prosecutors said he researched remote-controlled boats and a remote-controlled 5-foot-long helicopter.

    And after Sept. 11, federal agents asked the Academy of Model Aeronautics' 143,000 members to watch for any fellow enthusiasts who might be buying planes with bad intentions.

    Well before the Massachusetts arrest, police in Montgomery County, Md., put out a terrorist warning to hobby shops

  • this is the type of thing i have been worried about for some time now a few weeks ago i was at the website for the youtube show FLIGHT TEST they do all sorts of silly but mostly cool projects with rc planes and FPV i was rather upset when i saw the bit they did called FPV BOMB DROP here is the link you can judge and see if you think it was the right type of thing to do i am still not too sure it was a good idea especially after today's little bit of newshttp://www.flitetest.com/articles/fpv-guided-bomb-drop

    have a look and see what you all think of it. it reminded me of video of the first gulf war.

  • ah i see some one beat me to it with the link, oh well

    i am so mad bout this i am not processing clearly

    apparently the FBI is who gave him the planes according to the BBC

  • the AMA has just released a response to this incident here is the link http://www.modelaircraft.org/news/RCPlot.aspx

  • I love the "Darwin Award" comment.

    I'm worried about my hobby, but I can't imagine how subscribers to Islam and others with roots in the middle east must feel every time a whack job does something like this.  

  • Well, having just read the AMA's official response, I am pleased that "The AMA’s 143,000 aeromodelers throughout the country pledge to keep a vigilant eye in their communities on any suspicious activity involving RC aircraft". That makes me feel safe. Now, with Halloween approaching, I hope that all members of the World Champion Punkin Chunkin Association step up to plate and promise to report any disaffected individuals building trebuchets on roof tops in downtown DC.

  • I just heard about this last night, I was wondering how long it would take to show up here. I can't say this is surprising, honestly I thought we'd see an attempt like this sooner. I think we're still a long way from someone managing to make a drone without prior knowledge and ability, but this will certainly put us in the public's eye.


    @Scott - I'm a member of AUVSI. It's not specifically a UAV organization, but I think it's much closer to what you're looking for than something like the AMA.

  • Here is a link to the AMA's official response. 


  • aerial security here we come

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