Philippine officials: Muslim militants may resort to kites to attack military choppers

I find this disturbing, however I shouldn’t be surprised. Kites, perhaps from the very early beginnings, have been used as weapons, decoys, and as military tools. Saul’s Barrage kite, for example, (which was test flown here in Halifax, Nova Scotia) was used as an anti-aircraft weapon. It would bring down enemy air craft by “clipping” their wings, so to speak. More information on the barrage kite can be found here: Harry C Sauls Barrage Kite and here: Saul’s Barrage Kite

fast forward to 2007…it appears that it’s still happening with militants using them to deter night time air raids by helicopters by flying kites near their camps.

Here is an excerpt from the Associated Press article carried by the international tribune

MANILA, Philippines: Al-Qaida-linked militants and their sympathizers may be using an unlikely weapon to strike at attack helicopters and cut the risk of aerial raids on their jungle strongholds: kites.

A Huey helicopter encountered difficulty while flying back at night from a recent combat mission on the southern island of Jolo after a kite’s thick nylon cord became dangerously entwined in its rotor, Philippine air force chief Lt. Gen. Horacio Tolentino said Monday.

The pilots had noticed unusual vibrations, and managed to land safely in a Jolo military camp, he said.

An air force officer familiar with the incident told The Associated Press that the kite’s cord most probably struck the Vietnam War-era Huey over a sparsely populated mountainous region, from which the aircraft evacuated soldiers wounded during a clash with suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.

It was unlikely the kite had been flown by ordinary civilians, the officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Several kites may have been flown, then tied to trees surrounding a rebel encampment as an extra buffer against nighttime air attacks, the officer said.

“They really have an intention to bring down our helicopters,” Tolentino told the AP.

After the incident, Tolentino said he instructed air force pilots to undertake “evasive maneuvers” aimed to protect choppers from kites during landing and takeoff in Jolo, especially at night. Inspectors were deployed to ensure no kites were being flown near air force areas, he said.

Kite-flying is a popular pastime on Jolo, a predominantly Muslim island where U.S. forces have been providing non-combat assistance to Filipino troops to wipe out Abu Sayyaf militants and a handful of Indonesian militants.

But residents rarely fly kites at night.

Kites have been used as a combat tool elsewhere. Insurgents in Iraq’s volatile Ramadi region have flown kites over U.S. troops to align mortar fire, U.S. forces there have said.

Kites’ potentially lethal power caught the country’s attention last May, when a Huey helicopter crashed on a busy street near an air base in central Cebu province, killing nine people, seven of them on the ground.

Investigators said the nylon kite cord, which accidentally got coiled in the assembly connecting the main rotor to the aircraft’s body, may have caused the crash.

Tolentino said the air force endorsed a bill to Congress that would penalize people who fly kites near airports and air bases nationwide following that deadly accident.

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