London, Great Britain—In the wake of the recent chemical attacks carried out by Russian intelligence agents, the UK is developing chemical detection drones.
The UK Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces have begun developing drones that will be capable of detecting and examining suspicious chemical agents. The drones are also being designed to address biological warfare threats.
Project Minerva was launched before the attacks, in 2016, but has acquired a newfound sense of urgency. It has been developing a Snake Eye mini-drone (a pocket-sized drone with mini detectors) that could detect chemical agents through the use of a laser system and relay them in 3D imagery back to its operators.
Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said: “Following the reckless nerve agent attack in Salisbury, we have seen the bravery and professionalism of our Armed Forces, emergency services and MoD scientists. They have worked tirelessly to investigate and clean up deadly contaminated areas.”
The chief aim of the new technology is to limit the exposure of law enforcement and military personnel to chemical and biological agents. Close to 200 military personnel from the Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) are decontaminating the British town of Salisbury, where two Russian intelligence agents are suspected of attempting to poison a former Russian double agent and his daughter. With the new drones, however, the operation would be much simpler and safer.
“This project will ensure we stay at the forefront of dealing with such heinous attacks, whether on our streets or on foreign battlefields,” added Williamson.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the U.K.’s military research organization, is leading the development project. Major General Josh Green, DSTL’s military adviser for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN), said that the “military is putting a lot of time and effort into CBRN and Minerva could have a significant effect on our capability and potentially decrease the training burden. It is a project for everything else to build on.”
Concerning the Salisbury attacks, a private investigation authority claims to have identified one of the Russian suspects as a highly decorated GRU colonel. According to the Bellingcat Investigation Group, the man thus far known as Ruslan Boshirov is in fact, Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.
“The true identity of one of the Salisbury suspects has been revealed to be a Russian Colonel. I want to thank all the people who are working so tirelessly on this case,” said Williamson.
The British government is considering its next moves. But it won’t be long before the blissful British skies are buzzing with drones.