South Australian Police (SAPOL) officers are undergoing training to pilot two small remote controlled aircraft that the force has added to its arsenal. The South Australian government provided around $200,000 for the purchase of the aircraft, which arrived this week.
The two 'Remotely Piloted Aircraft' can be used to capture still images and video, including infrared imagery, in crisis situations. "These devices will be useful to help gather intelligence during emergencies and high-risk incidents," assistant commissioner Paul Dickson said in a statement.
According to police, members of SAPOL's Special Tasks and Rescue (STAR) Group, police pilots and members of the Forensic Services Branch will be among the first to train to use the devices. In addition to training in remote piloting of the aircraft, operators will need to be licensed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
"We've got to provide the extra training around the CASA requirements and for them to have the expertise to fly them in the open environment," Dickson told a media briefing.
"Equipped with still, video and infrared cameras they will be guided with stealth and precision by specially trained officers," police minister and Deputy Premier John Rau said in a statement.
"The aircraft can be deployed in minutes and fly at heights which make them inaudible from the ground. These machines can provide valuable intelligence and evidence to police during an event such as a siege, terrorist attack or other high-risk incident."
Dickson told journalists he expected police to begin employing the drones in the field by "mid-year".