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Unmanned drones to serve Olympic security
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China's security forces are to use unmanned drones to patrol the skies over the Olympic sailing venue of Qingdao City, in the country's first known use of the spy craft.

The unmanned scout made its debut at a drill on Wednesday in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province. It will watch for suspicious activities and transmit photos and videos back to command stations.

During the drill, two armed police personnel remotely piloted the meter-long reconnaissance aircraft by a third-floor window in a building more than 50 meters away, and watched activities inside the room on a screen at their ground station.

At a cost of almost 1 million yuan (147,000 US dollars) each, the low-altitude, low-noise aircraft can reconnoiter several square kilometers and stay in the air for an hour, said Dai Sujin, head of the armed police forces of Shandong.

But he did not reveal the source of the technologies or the total number of the weapons dispatched during the Games, citing operational security.

Qingdao will receive 464 athletes from 65 countries for 11 sailing events. It is also the only host city beside Beijing to hold opening and closing ceremonies.

Besides the unmanned drones, another 35 kinds of anti-terrorist weapons were on show in mock hijackings and bomb attacks.

"They are expected to be used by the security forces during the Beijing Olympics," Dai said.

The armed police forces also spent more than 15 million yuan (2.2 million US dollars) purchasing 32 kinds of equipment to counter aircraft hijackings. But the weapons were not on show to the media or public.

Explosive disposal robots that can lift explosives of up to 16 kilograms were displayed. They work by remote control and move explosives to blast spots with retractable arms or destroy the explosives directly with high-pressure water guns.

The anti-terrorist forces were also equipped with battery-powered segways, each about a meter high and with two wheels.

The segways allowed the armed police to control direction and speed by changing the gravity center, leaving their hands free to shoot, said Huang Shan, a provincial special force vice head.

"With a speed of up to 20 kilometers per hour, the vehicle helps transport troops and shoot accurately, fast and silently."

China has put the emphasis on security in the run-up to the Games. An anti-terrorist force of nearly 100,000 commandos, police and army troops is on high alert for attempted terrorist attacks.

Security forces in host cities Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Qinhuangdao and Hong Kong have been patrolling the ground and skies of all venues and the maritime safety of coastal venues.

(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2008)

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