French authorities are looking into a drone that on Monday afternoon flew over the southeastern French Cape of Brégançon in the Var, where Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte are spending their summer holidays.
“An investigation into this drone flight is currently underway,” the Elysée Palace told French news agency AFP, not giving any indication of whether the drone had been shot down for security reasons.
Macron invited British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) to Fort de Brégançon in Bornes-les-Mimosas before his two weeks of summer holidays. Photo: AFP
The French government added that “the whole of the President's holiday programme is private and unofficial”, including all outings which he will go on in his two-week summer break.
Fort de Brégançon, a medieval fortress on an islet off the French Mediterranean coast, has been the official retreat of the President of France since 1968.
The drone incident came less that a day after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro survived an alleged assassination attempt involving two exploding drones during a military parade in Caracas.
Maduro has since pointed the finger at neighbouring Colombia, Venezuela’s ultra-right wing and financial backers who live in the US state of Florida, leading some international sources to question the credibility of the alleged drone attack.
But both incidents involving Macron and Maduro beg the question of whether current security measures to protect global Heads of State are equipped and ready to deal with drone warfare and other forms of terrorism by joystick.
Just as crucial is knowing how easy it is for the public to gain access to this cutting-edge and potentially lethal technology.
The world’s commercial drone market has flourished in recent years, with widespread availability and falling prices.
“Quadcopter” for example, drones that can be operated from a mile away and can fly for 20 minutes+ on one single charge cost less than €850 ($1,000 online), although the amount of weight they can carry is limited.
However, terrorist groups such as the Islamic State have already used drones to carry out attacks by dropping grenades or crashing into infrastructure.
There have also been worrying incidents such as January 2015 drone crash onto the White House lawn and a few months later a drone carrying radioactive sand from the Fukushima nuclear disaster crashed into the Japanese prime minister’s office, although the amount of radiation was minimal.
In July, Saudi Arabian security forces also shot down a recreational drone near a royal palace, leading to speculation of a coup attempt.