MI5 Threat Update

19 Jul

Last week MI5 gave their annual threat update where they discussed the continued challenges posed by state threats and terrorism. While the Director General didn’t touch on the threat UASs specifically may pose, we thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss the problem and seriousness of this aerial threat.

While state-threats do pose a risk, it is terrorism that our focus at Gibson Robotics is on. Dissident Republican terrorist groups (specifically in Northern Ireland) have had their capabilities progressively reduced which is progress MI5 should be proud of. Reduced capabilities are of concern to us though, as terrorist groups may look to maximise damage with minimal effort – aerial threats are prime candidates for this.

While we have seen a fall in Dissident Republican terrorism, there has been a significant rise in Extreme Right Wing Terroristactivity which is occupying the attention of MI5.  

“Of the 29 late-stage attack plots disrupted over the last four years, fully 10 have been Extreme Right Wing. We areprogressively finding more indicators of potential threat. By way of example, last month a man in Somerset, Dean Morrice, was sentenced to eighteen years inprison, having been convicted of possessing explosives. He was seeking to use a 3D printer to manufacture a firearm. Morrice was stopped before he was able to carry out any attack, but before his arrest had been actively trying to drawothers into his toxic ideology. Extreme Right Wing Terrorism is here to stay, as a substantial additional risk for MI5 to manage.”

— MI5 Director General, Ken McCallum

As can be seen from this example, simple, easy to acquire, off-the-shelf, solutions are being used with intention to cause harmto the innocent public. With off the shelf drones being increasingly capable, Gibson Robotics remains aware of the threat and employ Red Team tactics in our development to ensure we are capable of responding to the most malicious of intent. Access to cheap civilian drone technology provides violent actors a new offensive edgewith lower risk and lower cost than sending operatives to disrupt a commercial plane from onboard.

This commentary is not intended to scare or spread fear but rather to increase awareness and ensure we are prepared to respond to such threats. The disruption of the Gatwick incident gave a glimpse into the potential of such a threat and with a bit more destructive intent, acatastrophic event could occur and seriously negatively impact an already limping industry due to the ongoing pandemic situation.