Thursday, July 30, 2009

Subversive Chinese radio controlled (RC) aircraft

(Mumbai) The Customs has seized thousands of radio-controlled (RC) aircraft imported from China, Taiwan, and Korea, which they say pose a serious threat to the city.

These model planes, especially the ones imported from China, are violating regional wireless norms set by the ministry of communication and IT, thereby threatening to intercept and jam frequency bands used by Indian security agencies, said Custom officials.

The radio communication frequency used by the city's various security and intelligence agencies ranges from 400 to 500 Mhz.

After denying NoCs to several consignments at the Mumbai Port Trust — as many as three in last couple of months — the Customs have decided to destroy around 3,000 RC planes. "These aircraft may come in handy for subversive activities. We have issued orders to destroy them," said an official.

The government rules allow flying of RC models on an Amplitude Modulation (AM) radio band, which comprises of many kilohertz or thousands of cycles per second of electromagnetic energy.

But many aircraft, especially those imported from China and assembled here, not only violate the AM bandwidth, but are also being flown on frequency modulation (FM), which is in direct violation of the state's laws, said officials.

According to the national frequency allocation table , the frequency spots 27004 kilohertz (KHz), 27116KHz, 27148KHz, 27156KHz, 27228KHz, are earmarked for aeromodelling.

A recent test by wireless experts revealed most aircraft violated state-appointed frequencies. "The Chinese ones show a frequency bandwidth of 27000KHz, but are actually capable of not only violating Indian bandwidth, they can be flown on FM," said an expert from the regional wireless office.

To restrict the flight range, the battery strength of these planes is fixed at 5W.

Another reason for officials to get worried is the high range of RC helicopters and their ability to carry five to 10kg of load (11-22 lbs).

"We have received intelligence inputs that explosive-laden toy planes can be used for subversive activities, said Custom officials. The engines are powered either by a battery or fuel, and the aircraft need just a small runway to take off.

RC helicopters can take off from the palm of a hand. Parts of the planes — remote control, body and engine — are imported from different countries and can be assembled by experts in Mumbai. Cheaper, ready-to-fly Chinese versions are available for enthusiasts in the local market. "These are the ones we are most worried about as they don't follow any fixed frequency," said officials.

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