back to article Secret Service on alert after drone CRASHES into White House

The US Secret Service is investigating how a drone came to crash into the White House in the early hours of Monday morning. The two-foot quadcopter drone invaded White House airspace at around 3am and crashed on the southeast side of the presidential property, prompting a security lock-down by Secret Service agents. President …

  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    How much C4

    ...can a quadcopter carry?

    I'm sure the bad guys must have thought about something like this already. Maybe the next step is random rotated notched jamming and new radio comms for the spooks to match the notches.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: How much C4

      I don't think it enough to flatten a building. There's reports of drones coming across the US/Mexican border with a couple of pounds of drugs each. Apparently, the drug cartels are working on payload and range.

      But as drones get bigger and more sophisticated, I'm sure we'll see someone try. If not C4 or Semtex, maybe something home-made.

      1. Wzrd1

        Re: How much C4

        For that type of drone, not enough to do more than break a car window. Their load carrying capacity is miniscule.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: How much C4

        When it comes to payload capacity, most quadcopters can carry a couple hundred grams at most. If payload and range are the target, it would be a much better choice to use a standard fixed wing design. Scaling that up to carry a few kilograms (or couple dozen) is not that hard.

      3. SolidSquid

        Re: How much C4

        They might not be able to carry much, but even a small bomb going off would have one hell of an impact on the US, regardless of whether it injured someone

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: How much C4

          Isn't that the general idea of terrorism* that the actual action is insignificant, but the reaction produced is what counts?

          As pointed out elsewhere, a chemical, biological or nuclear payload would get more press scare stories. Since it's all about insane extrapolation rather than actual danger.

          Maybe you could land a drone with influenza or TB on it? Since those kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, they must be dangerous. As compared to avian/swine flu. Or Ebola. Or *insert dumb medical scare story*.

          *The type wot we is supposed to be scared off, rather than a nation state using military resources.

    2. Ole Juul

      Re: How much C4

      That would be mean. It's already a dark place. I suggest that a quadcopter can likely sprinkle enough LSD over the place that things might actually become more colorful.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much C4

      Not a lot.

      It if it was detected on time it could have been jammed. White House same as most objects of such significance worldwide has jamming gear. Not that this would have helped in the days of pi-pilot and arduino so you can have a fully autonomous drone assembled in your basement.

      Continuing the "risk assessment", a quadcopter cannot carry anything even remotely close to the 50 kg on a large aircraft model. It is slow, has a massive IR signature regardless of the engine and quite vulnerable - nowhere near as dangerous as a model aircraft and especially as a glider.

      If the attacker is a glider (in its final phase) the short range IR guided missiles cannot lock on, so the only thing which can defend it is a phalanx. Frankly, if you live on Connecticut avenue, I suggest you move house. At least until the Feds have a fleet of drones of their own in the air 24x365. This is one of the two options to defend against this - fight fire with fire and drone with a drone. The other is good old blimp barrage from WW2 days. Effective then, effective now.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: How much C4

        You're not going to be able to destroy any significant part of the White House with a quad copter and some C4. Now, you might be able with a quad copter and a small charge to cross into White House airspace and take out the President's helicopter right after takeoff or before landing.

      2. localzuk

        Re: How much C4

        As you can program drones to fly paths, so they don't need someone remotely controlling them, jamming would potentially be useless.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How much C4

        The quad in the picture seems to be a DJ Phantom which can be programmed through an easy to use mobile app to fly to specific locations by using GPS. I assume that's what happened here. Perhaps the battery ran out and the drone dropped to the floor before being able to fly back to it's master.

        I wonder how effective jamming would be in this scenario. You'd have to jam the GPS signal I guess.

      4. Rustident Spaceniak
        Black Helicopters

        Re: How much C4

        <It if it was detected on time it could have been jammed. >

        Don't you think it was? Why did it crash in the first place?

      5. DropBear
        Trollface

        Re: How much C4

        "This is one of the two options to defend against this - fight fire with fire and drone with a drone. The other is good old blimp barrage from WW2 days. Effective then, effective now."

        Clearly, there can be only one viable course of action: surround the White House tightly with giant-ass Tesla Coils! If you do it right, you could even have them play the anthem on every 4th of July! I would also recommend a drawbridge and a moat with laser-equipped sharks, but hey, it's just an idea...

    4. mANgLEr

      Re: How much C4

      > ...can a quadcopter carry?

      An African or European quadcopter?

    5. EJ

      Re: How much C4

      There was a story of an American microbrewery that was using a drone to deliver 12 packs? of beer to ice fishermen in the Great Lakes region, but the plug was pulled on it once the FAA heard about it. http://abcnews.go.com/US/faa-slaps-drone-beer-delivery-service-ice-fishermen/story?id=22314625

      How much C4 equals the weight of a 12 pack of beer?

    6. Simon Watson

      Re: How much C4

      Not enough. Ask instead how much Sarin it can carry.

  2. Denarius Silver badge
    Coat

    And I thought

    White House was already full of drones...

    My coats the one with "Bee Keeping for politicians" in the pocket

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: And I thought

      Shame on you, insulting the bees that way.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: And I thought

        At least we know now where colony collapse disorder originated.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for the Logan's Run dome to be moved into place. If you're over thirty, it'd be best to stay outside.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There has been mention before

    Even by U.S. companys of mass drone strikes and in the end why choose C4 when either a Pathagenic or Radioactive source is so much lighter,easier to distribute and with a much greater phsycological effect on the civilian population.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There has been mention before

      Heck just spray flour,phone up Fox news* to say you've sprayed Anthrax and that will do the job of mass panic.

      *Lets face it, you need a news outlet to report a scare and not actually bother to check the source or facts first.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: There has been mention before

        Lets face it, you need a news outlet to report a scare and not actually bother to check the source or facts first.

        In the UK that probably means having the Daily Mail on speed dial. Hell they'd write up the story even if it never happened.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Dropping flour?

        Whilst shouting On! On! I hope...

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Dropping flour?

          Could be a problem for the hare if the pack then jumps the fence ... only to find a check back 20.

  5. ThisIsNotMyName
    Black Helicopters

    Pull!

    Assuming you can detect the thing, a shotgun using with fine shot would do the trick. Has the added advantage of not killing bystanders, as the maximum range is only a few hundred metres (at most). Unlike a sniper's rifle...

    1. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: Pull!

      I was thinking the same sort of thing. Maybe with a deployable net payload instead of a shot pattern. Such devices were well known as naval cannon ammunition in the days when the the objective was to shred the sails and rigging of enemy ships. I'm not suggesting installation of 32-pounders on the White House roof, but maybe an 8 or 10 gauge shotgun?

      1. FlatSpot

        Re: Pull!

        Wouldn't it be safer and easier just to install some large fans on the side of the building?

    2. EJ

      Re: Pull!

      I believe El Reg had an article on how the thought of shooting down a drone easily was a fallacy, at least with rifles/shotguns. It was a topic brought up in the hysteria cloud of Amazon's drone package delivery daydream.

  6. localzuk

    Time to develop tiny anti-air missiles

    A micro-iron dome is needed I think. Combine it with radar sensitive enough to pick out birds from the air, and a deep learning network for target analysis and you might be able to stop drones. Either that or just get some farmers with shotguns on the lawn.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Time to develop tiny anti-air missiles

      While I still think that a shotgun is the quickest solution it does require that the user has some skill - a Micro-Patriot missile system is probably the best solution - and could have other applications too.

      I wonder how a Micro-Patriot would work against Pheasants?

      Kick-Starter anyone?

  7. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Missile won't work for defence....

    ...but a nice big fan could blow them away. If the wind from the White House is above the maximum cruise speed of the drone, it won't get in!

    (I wrote this as a joke but I'm beginning to wonder... Hello, patent office?)

  8. William Donelson

    Drone delivery of nasty stuff....

    Will the gov have to construct glass bubbles?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What about working to earn the respect and support of all people?

      Oh, you think that might be difficult?

  9. Misky
    Mushroom

    Just a large Air Vortex Cannon will do, and no collateral damage. Literally blow it out of the sky.

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