Russia could drone attack Commonwealth Games, security chiefs fear


The Commonwealth Games could be attacked by Russian drones and a number of countermeasures have been put in place to protect the Games and discourage potential plans

Staff from RAF Northolt's RAF Regiment have taken part in an unmanned air systems training exercise at RAF Spadeadam
Staff from RAF Northolt’s RAF Regiment have taken part in an unmanned air systems training exercise at RAF Spadeadam

An aerial threat from Russia plunges Britain’s flagship summer sports extravaganza into a Game of Drones.

Security chiefs will use unmanned aerial vehicles to protect themselves from enemy drones at the Commonwealth Games, which start next month in Birmingham.

They will be used for aviation security for the first time at a major public event in the UK amid growing fears of Russian operations here and a revived terror threat.

Intelligence chiefs believe drones are capable of bombing the event.

Spooks fear that as many as 50 of Vladimir Putin’s spies are active in the UK and our support of Ukraine since the Russian invasion could make us a target.

An anti-drone system for skywall patrols


On Friday, the Prime Minister underscored this support with a second visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Around 5,000 athletes from up to 72 nations are expected to attend venues in Birmingham and the West Midlands during the Games, which will take place from July 28th to August 8th.

Last night a source said: “There is a risk that Russia will seek to disrupt the games, which includes anything from a drone strike to the use of a nerve agent.

“The Commonwealth Games is a high-profile event with a global audience and could easily be exploited by the Kremlin. It is easy to see how Putin wanted to punish the UK for supplying arms to Ukraine.”

Well-placed sources told the Sunday People that special forces will deploy unmanned aerial systems designed to capture, destroy or prevent drones from flying.

The Commonwealth Games begin in Birmingham next month


Lensi Photography /

An intelligence official described the use of anti-drone technology to protect a major public event as “unprecedented.”

And in light of the potential threat, the Department of Defense has announced that up to 1,000 service members – including bomb disposal officers, special forces and snipers – will be deployed under the codename Operation Unity.

Armed undercover experts from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment will mingle with crowds at venues including the Games’ 18,000-seat Alexander Stadium.

The troops are equipped with items such as attack drones, lasers and weapons to jam the GPS and radio signals of other vehicles. One of the systems used would be the SkyWall Patrol, a drone scavenger that fires a web-like web that brings down enemy vehicles.

Other devices prevent radio waves from reaching the drone and force it to land.

The games will be played in Birmingham


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The Department of Defense is still developing counter-drone weapon systems. One called Orcus is due to be ready by 2025 to protect RAF bases from drone attacks.

Some anti-drone systems likely to be deployed at the Games will be similar to equipment used by the RAF at Gatwick in December 2018 when the airport was closed over a reported drone sighting.

British troops are believed to have used a system called the Drone Dome, electronic jammers and sensors to locate, identify and neutralize spacecraft.

Lt. Col. Philip Ingram, a former intelligence officer and NATO planner, said: “The Commonwealth Games present a potential opportunity for Russia to try and disrupt what is happening because of Britain’s support for Ukraine.

“One potential threat is the use of drones by either Russia, terrorists or misguided members of the public.

Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, Perry Barr


Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)

“The Russians have a history of using the covert elements of Russian military intelligence, but it’s entirely possible they could use cyber and disinformation attacks to try to disrupt the games.

“The lockdown during the pandemic has resulted in very little visible terrorist activity, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone.”

He added: “Terrorist groups have continued to recruit, nurture, encourage and resource would-be attackers, and the open public locations at the Games provide a perfect targeting opportunity.”

Meanwhile, there are concerns about the widespread activities of dozens of Russian spies operating in every sector of British society, including the universities, the civil service and the House of Commons.

An intelligence source said: “They collect all kinds of intelligence information and feed it back to the Kremlin through a series of henchmen.

“It can be anything from what type of weapons and how much are being sent to Ukraine, to the sexual antics of the country’s political and military leaders.”

A suspected Russian spy was arrested in Gatwick last week as he was about to board a plane. The man, in his forties, remains in custody.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The actions of the Russian state pose an acute and direct threat to the national security of the UK. But we have made great strides in countering the threat in recent years and strengthening our and our allies’ resilience to increase malicious activity by Russia.”

He added the National Security Bill will enable our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to deter, detect and disrupt the full range of modern government threats.

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