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A commercial Parrot drone was able to land on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth unchallenged.

According to local media in northern Scotland, a local drone user landed his drone on-board the deck the aircraft carrier

The drone user said:

“I was amazed that I was able to land on the aircraft carrier for two reasons, the first being that there was no one about to prevent it from landing although were security police around in small boats who were waving at the drone.

The second reason was more technical. I received a high wind warning as I was videoing up and down the flight deck and my control system advised me to land.”

The drone operative later returned to discuss what he had done, however no one was available.

“There was absolutely no-one around when I landed, it was like a ghost ship.

After I posted the picture taken from the flight deck I got some flak from other drone users who were saying ‘You are going to make a lot of people unhappy’. I thought the only law I had broken was that I flew over a vessel I didn’t have control over.

I was a bit concerned so I drove round to Invergordon and spoke to the port security and explained that I wanted to speak to someone from the ship such as the duty watch or the captain about what I had done. 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 added:

“No-one seemed too concerned, but the officer I spoke to said he would pass it up the chain of command. I was fascinated by the Queen Elizabeth and wanted to have a crack at filming her. I wasn’t out to get anyone in trouble. What’s done is done, and I can’t undo the images I shot.

I think if the MoD were in any way bothered by this then these videos and stills would not have been allowed to see the light of day.”

While the drone operative clear had no malicious intent, this begs the question, what if he had? The threat of small drones is something no naval ship in any country is realistically set up to deal with currently.

“Although there is still a large gap between the capabilities of military and civilian drones, commercially available drones are giving hobbyists, companies and hostile groups access to capabilities previously only available to the military,”report published by the Remote Control Project said.

The report detailed ways to deal with this kind of thing:

“A range of terrorist, insurgent, criminal, corporate and activist threat groups have already demonstrated the ability to use civilian drones for attacks and intelligence gathering. The best defence against the hostile use of drones is to employ a hierarchy of countermeasures encompassing regulatory countermeasures, passive countermeasures and active countermeasures. Regulatory countermeasures can restrict the capabilities of commercially available drones and limit the ability of hostile groups and individuals to procure and fly drones.”

The report concludes:

“The government should also make funding available to police forces and specialist units for the purchase of early warning systems and other passive drone countermeasures, including radio frequency jammers and GPS jammers. Radio frequency jammers are heavily restricted in the United Kingdom; however, such equipment could provide additional protection and security to vulnerable locations and individuals by blocking command signals to drones.

Therefore, the government should relax the regulations restricting the use of radio frequency jammers for protection against hostile drone use around defined key sites.”

Liberal Democrat MSP Jamie Stone said he was concerned at the security implications may table a question in the Scottish Parliament about it.

“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.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is to arrive in Portsmouth on the 18th of this month and we’ve been invited to attend. Ironically, the invitation reads:

PLEASE NOTE THAT DRONES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED AT THIS EVENTMeasures will be in place to counter drones other than one being flown by the Royal Navy.”

We have reached out to the Aircraft Carrier Alliance for comment.

An MoD spokesperson said:

“We take the security of HMS Queen Elizabeth very seriously. This incident has been reported to Police Scotland, an investigation is underway and we stepped up our security measures in light of it.”

 

 

62 COMMENTS

  1. Embarrassing. Such a shame they didn’t try the “pitch invasion” after the CIWS had been fitted, it would have made a nice test for Phalanx. I would so like to see a video of that!

    • Curious Julian to see when Phalanx will be fitted. I know she is not formally hand over yet so I imagine it will be some time but the the new USS Gerald R Ford already has her weapons added and she is also is on builder’s trials.

      Also why only 3 Phalanx on QE? Surely one on each corner would be needed at a minimum. After spending 3Bn it would be gut wrenching to learn the MOD penny-pinched on a Phalanx mount!

      • You’re right but they should of gone for searam instead i think, i mean the US, has 2 searams, 3 phalanx and ESSM for their CIWS…. if they see it important to add such protection shouldnt we

      • 3 is more than enough. It gives you full coverage. Look at the CIWS arcs on Invincible Class and you’ll see everywhere is covered and they only had 3.

      • Re number – as Will says.

        Re CIWS fitting – the Tide tankers are having the weapons fit done on the South coast which are also Phalanx and DS30 cannon. The rumours for QE builders’ trials were ideally for 5+1+5 as in 5 weeks at sea, a break to review/fix,and then 5 more weeks at sea. The trials were supposed to include weapons. The trials so far seem suspiciously short and haven’t included weapons. Putting all the pieces together my layman’s guess would be that she will have Phalanx and DS30 fitted by the same team as has probably just completed the first Tide fitting and will then put to sea again to do the second half of the builder’s trials (and hopefully find some drones to shoot at – I’d still love to see a video of that!).

      • David – Can I gently correct you? The Gerald R Ford had about 3 days slow cruising off the James River before moving to be Commissioned which she was a couple of weeks ago. She then put to sea for builders trials. It seems we do trials and then Commission while the US Navy commissions and then does trials. Probably why she was built with most weapon systems fitted as she basically was in dock for years.

  2. The blasted ship is still in the hands of the builders! When RN duties begin, it will get the same protection as any other naval vessel. Unless the drone is carrying a nuclear device or a modest amount of explosives, the chances of real damage are minimal. The greater danger is to the crew being targeted than any structural damage. The ship is 65,000 tons, for goodness sake.

    • If it was carrying thermite… That stuff goes through steel like a hot knife through butter.
      Again not enough to sink it, but can you imagine if it went through two floors and a load of wiring.

  3. So the vessel was in Port? Should the RN/MOD not have counter measures in place to stop drones flying over their property as a national security risk?

  4. As far as I’m aware, she is a commercially built vessel, still in the hands of the constructors. No White Ensign yet as she is not commissioned into the Royal Navy. Although the Navy have crew on board, she is still a Merchant Navy craft.
    Yes, it was a bit of a cock thing to do, but who died or got seriously injured? I smiled.
    Get over & past it. She will be a very different vessel when armed & ready.

    • So it’s ok because it was just a drone enthusiast.
      What if it was a foreign intelligence operative that placed a GPS tracking device on the mast, its not beyond reason and by the sounds of things no one would have known any better.

      • GPS tracking on the mast? LOL

        No foreign intelligence agency needs to place any tracking device on this huge ship to know where it is in the world.

      • If the enemy don’t know where a 70,000t warship is then we needn’t be too concerned about them posing a serious threat.

    • Kevin – while basically you are right she isn’t actually a Merchant Navy vessel. She flies the ‘Government Service’ blue ensign but as you infer is a civilian ship.

  5. Seriously? The guy didn’t think that he was breaking any laws by landing on an aircraft carrier but had the sense and maturity to go down to the port afterwords to admit what he has done? Unbelievable.

    And what a total and embarrassing lack of security. It doesn’t matter if its not ‘offically’ part of the royal navy yet, security should be tight.

    This is an embarrassing trend in Britain. We get problems and rather than be proactive and try to identify and fix them we just do patchwork jobs to push them into the long grass where they will be repeated. Does ‘Lessons have been learned’ sound familiar to any of you guys?

  6. It could only happen in U.K…no one around they are having dinner, oh there are some chaos waving their arm around in little boats, no one to report to and it doesn’t belong to the RN yet.. yay! …..Monty Python lives on.

  7. The reality is that she will be a useful ship albeit an expensive one for beating up small nations. Anyone with a sunburn missile or the newer versions will be too much trouble.

  8. Not much a drone can do unless equipped with a thermite bomb and even then it will have to land in the right place. Eventually there will be Laser systems to take down drones, but shooting at it, means bullets and fragments landing on people

  9. …………NOT ON MY WATCH……….I NEED TO SUP ME dram of Navy Rum…….👙..LOL.
    Apparently Two Navy divers were seen skinny dipping in the ship port under the influence of……..?????

  10. Oh dear embarrassing lapse of security. Seems the MoD and military police are slow to wake upto the threat small UAVs/ drones represent. QE probably should have shotgun or antidrone net armed personnel on guard duty 24/7.
    on a wider note whenever QE carrier is armed with phalanx she needs to be equipped with some SAMs ideally sea venom but sea ceptor would do. Seems penny pinching in the extreme for the QE carriers to be the only strike carriers in the world to have no SAMs. Without a SAM system they are missing a key layer of self defence.

    • I wish a policitican would ask the question on why the decision was taken not to include some basic missile defence system. Considering the price of the carrier and the f35b program, it seems such a tiny increase in overall price but would have significantly improved her defences and reduce the reliance on the escorts, which are lacking in numbers.

      • For goodness sake, the existing phalanx’s can be fairly easily upgraded to Phalanx’s big brother Searam as when required. These systems fire CIWS missiles and can be installed on the same footprint as the old Phalanx. No doubt this will be done as and when and if required.

        • I think you meant Searam fires RAM, Rolling Airframe Missile. A ship that size could easily accommodate dedicated 21 round Mk 144 launchers in addition to CIWS.

  11. Oh and TH sorry to troll you but you are a Muppet. Seriously fella when are you going to realise your daft hippy comments are A) inaccurate and wrong B) really not appreciated by people who comment on this website because they actually care about our armed forces and their welfare. C) if you want to make comments anyone will pay attention to or take seriously then you need to move over to countryfile, farming today, or a website dedicated to growing your own cannabis which clearly you have already smoked to much of.

  12. Agree sea ceptor vl system in a containerised form would only cost £30-40 million for a 48-96 vl quad packed system.
    adding the Italian anti torpedo/ anti mine defensive suite as per Italian FREMM class to QE would add another £35-50 million so for say £200 million (less than quarter the price of a frigate) both the QE carriers would be much better protected and less reliant on our small frigate and destroyer fleet. Tactically better to have an extra layer of self defence.

  13. I thought MoD Police were on site?
    Even if they were in this day and age of witch hunts and ridiculous PC crap what could have they actually done? Shot it down with their HK’s? There would be hell to pay with bullets flying in a civilian port.
    This incident does raise wider questions as the same could easily happen in any MoD establishment as none have defences in place to stop this sort of thing, but at the end of the day it is also sensationalist journalism.
    Several years ago Mark Thomas flew over Menwith Hill in a Hot Air Balloon. Again who is going to shoot it down? Its publicity seeking nothing more.

  14. Mr Bell

    I believe these vessels are currently trending under budget (the final budget that is) and so these defensive aids could be purchased within current project funding.

    A sea Ram costs circa $1m for 21 missiles – surely this at the very least is the way to go.

    • Sea Ram always seemed the solution to me. It doesn’t provide the same level of protection of Aster but realistically a lot better protection than just Phalanx (a tech that has not been battle proven and the only time it could have been, it failed). Layered protection is so important to avoid the situations where one system fails for whatever reason and we seem to have given up on the idea, even though the Falklands should have taught the reverse.

    • Mr Bell,
      I think that you will find that Searam fires 11 missiles per launcher and costs, depending who is quoting, between $450,000 to $1,000,000 PER missile. Definitely not $1,000,000 FOR 21 missiles

      Also according to the UK Government Audit Office the QE Class build contract is currently increasing and is currently expected to continue rising until the end of the build contract. Their forecast for the rate of increase is between 1% and 2% per year.

      Please try and stop reporting false information as it only results in confusion.

      • UK Expat

        The cost is not $1m per missile (that is the price of a tomahawk missile) There is a rolling Air Frame with 21 missile or 11 missile. There is also a combined launcher and gun that has been discussed on this forum.

        Even if the costs are higher – it comes no where near the £3bn cost of the vessel.

      • RAM unit cost is about $1 million each ($998,000 in 2014 dollars, close enough). That is the cost of one missile. The launcher and fire control are in addition to that. The missile has two seekers and some degree of fusion so it isn’t a cheap weapon to fire, but a lot cheaper than repairing your aircraft carrier after several missile hits.

  15. Has anyone else noticed the QE left Invergorden yesterday, headed North and is now off the Isle of Harris in North West Scotland heading South?

    QE going ‘the long way home’ and then up the Western Approaches like all Warships should. Possibly saying ‘Oi Oi’ to Glasgow, Liverpool and Appledore on the way round, collecting RFA Tidespring from Falmouth?

  16. It’s all about cost and the money is simply not there for anti-air missile systems.

    Not only that the money could be spent more wisely on other sections of our armed forces desperately needing upgrades and new kit.

    Also people talking about layered defence, what dya think the escort fleet is, the Phalanx IS the last line of a layered defence system. If the escorts do there job which I’m sure they would the phalanx should never be used, it’s a last resort.

    And I’m pretty sure not a single missile has been fired at a Nimitz class in over 40 years of constant service and the States have been involved in more conflict than anyone else in that time.

    What potenial adversary could we possibly face alone that has the capability to take out a Royal Navy Carrier strike fleet, if the air wing is a strong 24 F35b, Merlins for AEW and a Type 45 (hopefully 2) the most advanced air defence package in the world, and a frigate with sonar 2087, can someone tell me who has the capability to breach that defence and hit our carrier?

    And don’t say China because even if we did have all the anti-air missiles people are talking about if they wanted to sink us in the South China Sea nothing could stop them.

    • the Nimitz hasn’t fired because it hasn’t been in a real war situation where it is under much threat. Let’s hope that continues for another 40. Realistically it’s been a very long time since a carrier was actually needed and where one was out in harms way.

      • Who could have predicted the Falkland Islands war? Your carriers were certainly under attack then, and many of our two nations peacetime budget savings caused multiple problems for the fleet when weapons were free. Maybe not our carriers but US warships have certainly been under missile attack in recent years. In one case during Operation Desert Storm one of your Type 42s defeated an Iraqi Silkwork aimed at one of our old battleships with a Seadart missile. There was also Operation Praying Mantis where missile tracks from both sides warships filled radar screens.

  17. I have never smoked Mr Bell, yet alone unlawful substances.

    I am concerned about the security of this country. I am also a UK Taxpayer and a member of the right leaning Tax Payer’s Alliance.

    My late father was an officer in the army. I learned much from him. I also see that the defence budget – amongst others – is bloated and being spent on things which are largely irrelevant. A nuclear deterrent which even many serving members of the armed forces have reservations about and a hugely underfunded home security with a completely inadequate fleet of small vessels to patrol our coasts which are wide open.

    Now, if you and others seriously believe that this level of expenditure is sustainable, then are are very seriously deluded.

    Massive cut backs will come. I suggest you all give up being arm chair warriors and face reality.

    • TH – can I suggest in return you stop trying to be a putative Secretary of Defence or possibly a Prime Minister and let those who have that responsibility carry it out.

      As for nuclear defence I am happy to cancel Dreadnought and Trident as soon as countries like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, China and Russia prove they have got rid of theirs. I am a courteous person so I am happy to say ‘After you guys … thanks!’

      As I suspect you don’t actually read our responses it may come as as surprise that many (possibly most) of us are not best pleased at the bloated Foreign Aid Budget either or the barely sufficient Defence Budget. We also gripe at some of the ‘less well informed’ decisions that are taken by our beloved MoD. But that is because we wish the very best for the people who defend us and want the UK to be in the vanguard (excuse the pun) of best military practice and technology. Like carriers.

      That is a very long way from the continual drip drip of negativity, small mindedness and p**s taking you seem to find ‘rather clever’. When it isn’t.

    • “right leaning” Tax Payers’ Alliance? I’m trying to figure out why you have used that reference here, if it’s because you think the “right” are somehow big on defense so that legitimizes your trolling you’re sadly mistaken.

      Ahh yes the tax payers alliance, the 60 odd thousand strong right-wing tory pressure group funded from rich donors with links to far right groups, who want to abolish child benefit, abolish all taxes to the wealthy, yes they want to cut taxes for everyone yet at the same time cut government spending on nearly everything, your policies are crazy and if the general election is anything to go by they are so out of touch with ordinary people who want more spent.

      In that general election you hammered Labour for threatening to “ruin the country” by increasing corporation tax, and even though we have the lowest rate of corporation tax in Europe, and even after the rise it would not be as big as Germany’s (yano the strongest/largest economy in Europe) you were still peddling lies, and what’s funny is you said this “once again it will be the average tax payer who pays the cost of labour policy” average tax payer? multi-nationals are not the average tax payer!

      How you’re still getting away with calling yourselves “The tax payers alliance” is beyond parody, trying to fashion itself as a speaker for the average tax payer but you’re anything but, you’re a private billionaire funded group who’s only interest is in making more money for yourselves, totally dishonest in your campaigns.

      And the absolute juicy big cherry on the cake..

      The billionaires funding you are mostly doing it through the alliances charity arm so you get tax relief on your “research” but you get away with it because your billionaire donors are told beforehand 90% of their donation goes to funding (according to the UK charity commission who investigated you). So it’s YOU who is actually exploiting the tax payer.

    • “massive cutbacks will come” you’re the one who is deluded, the country has been cut to the absolute bone through austerity and the electorate have had enough, a Left wing Marxist has just nearly beaten a prime minster who had at the time a bigger approval rating over an opponent in history, and now he is well ahead in all the polls.

      If that’s not a wake up call to you “tax payers alliance” stooges that cutting cutting cutting public services while amazon has halved it’s tax bill to 7 million while its revenues went UP to 1.4 billion will not win you votes then like i said at the start, it is YOU who is totally deluded and out of touch.

      • Kieren – Actually Corbyn is some 6 points behind May personally and Labour lost 6 points since the General election although polls vary between 2 and 6 points ahead of the Tories.

        It looks ‘not good’ for the Tories but they won the election by a country mile (22% more seats than Labour) despite the worst election campaign since Neil Kinnock and still have a good working majority in Parliament. What we saw in June was as good as it gets for Corbyn and Momentum morons. People didn’t forget what the LibDems did to the Students and they won’t forget how Corbyn played them.

        Corbyn is unelectable because people value the economy more than anything else (maybe Brexit as well for the moment) and it beats me why the media think he did so well when he got 4 more seats than Brown did in 2010 and lost the election!

        Not sure why you play the ‘Amazon’ card especially when you seem to not understand that a Company pays tax on profits not turnover. Or that it is based in Luxembourg and plays the EU rules on tax avoidance. Especially when in personal tax last year the top 1% paid some 27% of all the income tax the government takes in. That’s down slightly on last year, but higher than the share in previous years and Income Tax is the single biggest tax income stream. In 2014/15, an average household in the top 10% paid nearly £38,000 in taxes. A household in the bottom 10% would have paid just over £5,000.

        • Hi Chris what poll is that? I’ve just spent a few minutes looking and every single poll ive seen has Theresa May behind in opinion polls and tories are behind in 90% and that will be more because polling data doesn’t take into a account a possible big youth turnout.

          Won’t the election by a country mile, if you think that if 2000 more people would have voted labour accross 20 seats it would of been a Labour is win a is a country mile then fine. Do you know how many seats are now marginals? They are the ones Corbyn is campaigning in now.

          What do you mean? How did Corbyn play students? I’m a student myself Chris and I’ve not heard nothing like that in any forum or any meeting.

          Chris it seems you’re a using the facts that suit your narrative and ignoring all the others, biggest voteswing since atlee, massive share of the vote etc, there’s are plenty of reasons why he did well Chris.

          Always makes me laugh when people say “unelectable” after nearly 13 million people voted for him. Yeah proper unelectable you’re right.

          Amazon posted a uk turnover of 70 billion in its US accounts Chris, I suggest you google how multi nationals avoid paying tax before you comment about profits etc. You’re not making any sense, you started your last paragraph on Amazon and corporation tax and your evidence is about personal income tax.
          I never once mentioned income tax.

          • Oh the penny’s just dropped, you mean the big Tory lie about Corbyn saying he would wipe out student debt. I take it you haven’t done what any normal rational thinking person would do and actually watched and read he said.

            Believe me when I say Chris, as a student labour were about to abolish tuition fees, nobody I spoke to in person or on twitter thought that labour were going to wipe out our debts.

            I didn’t even wants a debate on this, every time I mention labour here there is someone diving in giving it the “Corbyn is unelectable” garbage, even after trump, Brexit and macron, people are still in their own little bubble thinking that the people they support are always going to win.

  18. @TH The amount of money spent on defence is trivial compared with the welfare and nhs budgets. But of course no one will advocate cuts in those so lets pick on defence. Rightly or wrongly politicians have meddled with the defence budget almost to the point of it being irrelevant. Money has been wasted not by the various branches of the forces but by the MOD and Treasury.
    More money needs to be spent on the Forces, to keep our borders safe and to provide a proper defence of the Country.
    If anything more should be done to weed out the Benefits cheats and Scroungers, greedy tiers of middle management etc.
    On the topic of Drones they should be licensed and carry a serial number so that the owner can be traced. A big hefty fine of £1000 should be levied on irresponsible owners. The same should apply to laser pens.

  19. This is a multi billion pound asset so there should have been appropriate security. All that was needed were a few rounds from a SA80.

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