“Ah-ha Moment” from Professor Randall K. Nichols

“Ah-ha Moment” from Randall K. Nichols

I had an early Fusion Ah-ha moment, this morning, while watching a special on drone racing being the new “fast sport competition” akin to NASCAR.

We have been looking at the availability of nuclear commercial waste materials, their effect if delivered on a soft target, and the logistics of carrying that material via UAS in either team or swarm format as a weapon of mass disruption (crowd fear).

We have been thinking about the defenses and radar interception of such a drone attack group/ team. We have realized that the most effective attack(s)and defense(s) is /are Cyber based on the SCADA systems that control the Drones. That defenses must be in place and the “chief” of the attack group controls the multiple target array. Shooting them down implies that counter offensive radars and small EMS or drone rifles or interception of the critical control, navigation, payloads are available. Disrupting the swarm / team means Cyber disrupting the navigation, GPS, or critical control systems. Kinetic weapons such as missiles, buckets are way too expensive and dangerous in terms of collateral damage when deployed inside cities. We have looked at this problem and presented part of our conclusions at INFOWARCON 2016 in Nashville thanks to the wonderful invitation by Winn Schwartau.

The questions of adequate , available , mobile defenses and those trained in them has been left to my next semesters student team to evaluate and assess risks. We have been looking closely at the Smart Sky’s project – especially at its control features and communication security across very long distances. We have seen the superior use of MGS and communications security. Our objects are always to evaluate the risks of asymmetric attacks, the modalities, and to evaluate the best layered defenses to protect our country.

But trained resources capable of manning either side of the equation are probably beyond the scope of normal education systems. We don’t train scientists anymore and the tinker toy mindset seems to reduced to internet games. Finding the drones commercially is easy. FAA reported that 406,000 registrations since December 2015.
But finding the building – what’s under the hood- people to modify them is another scarce story.

In the back of my head, I have always
Been skeptical of the delivery method as too slow and clumsy. And without better thinking terrorists or defenders this attack had a low risk profile. It is just too cool for the average bad guy. There are easier ways to disrupt our lives. It wasn’t personally satisfying or motivating. SBs indoctrination / radicalization seems to be choice of the current crop of terrorists.

But drone racers in the new DRL range from ages 10-60 and are intensely competitive. They are fast at 80 miles an hour and the quads can be launched within a two mile range from a completely mobile source. Their payloads are 3D and very effective / clear as seen on large digital screens. The pilots are trained in getting in and out out of abandoned buildings in total clutter. Their motto is “if you haven’t crashed, you are not racing!” The audiences are engaged – not like a tennis match- but like a bull fighters ring.

They are the new generation of all day / night long at the computer games clique.
The entry cost is a quad. Most of the players know every piece of equipment and how to tweet the guts of UAS. They write about getting the most performance from each module. They are driven. They exchange info secretly because they don’t want to give out their particular process or tweet that might yield better tracking, more speed, more payload efficiency. The RCs are only a short step away from a completely mobile ground station ( MGS) with air, ground and satellite links.

We have taken soap box racing to the extreme. Build your own customized drone for whatever purpose and love every minute of it. FAA can’t regulate this desire. They barely have a handle on the threat no less have a legal definition to reduce the risks of collusion with AC. Yea they have lots of safety procedures for integration of UAS into NAS but gamers couldn’t care less. Terrorists would add the INFOSEC component to the mix. They would not be contracting their experience, they would be deploying it free with commitment and fervor.

We have also eliminated my concern about the pilots and operators training as well as the cost of entry. We have put a potential mobile weapon into highly skilled hands that can strike from anywhere- possibly too close for authorities to react. We are reduced to asking how much degradation from 80 mph does the radiation payload cause? War has not been lost is repeatability. 20 determined teams deployed over the county. Look at the LEO resources used in the Washington shooters case a few years back. Dr Mumm introduced the container drones that could modularized into a complex weapon. Are we looking at a scaled down version?

We are NOT looking anymore at terrorists with suicide vests, we are looking at their children who grow up with instilled hate and nursed by new technologies and are capable of fast, cheap, asymmetric attacks far beyond the conventional threat spectrum.

Definitely keeps a person awake at night.

Dr. Hans c. Mumm