Starting next month an unmanned "spy" aircraft will overfly the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro, in southeastern Brazil, at a height of 7.000 meters (23,000 feet), well out of range from the drug gangs and trades that last month shot down a police helicopter killing three men on board. The announcement was made by the Brazilian Federal Police.
Three aircraft with radars and high definition video cameras are scheduled to patrol from the air over the cities of Rio do Janeiro and Sao Paulo, as well as extensive areas of the border in the framework of the full fledged combat against drugs and organized crime, indicated on Monday Alessandro Moretti, a high ranking officer from the Federal Police stationed in Rio.
Moretti said there was no chance the unmanned aircraft could be shot down by the drug dealers, as happened last month. "Only with a war weapon such as land-air missile or cannon, could the traffickers shoot down the aircraft" said Moretti.
The three aircraft which will begin operating next month are manufactured by Israel's IAI defense industries complex. During the recent visit of Israeli president Shimon Peres, Brazil signed a contract for the purchase of 15 of these drones at a cost of US$ 200 million.
The Brazilian government and Rio do Janeiro authorities are running against time to ensure that the Cidade Maravilhosa "Wonderful City", which will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, can be cleaned from organized crime and the drug cartels operating mostly in the favelas, where millions of Brazilians live, next to the rich and famous.