In Brazil, the regional police commander responsible for the execution of visible-policing actions decides when to use UAVs to accomplish missions. UAVs can be used in both rural and urban settings during situations of institutional normality, federal interventions, a state of emergency or a state of siege. The visible-policing actions and measures may be preventive or operational, according to the level and nature of the obstacles presented. Preventive actions and measures have a permanent nature and are normally limited to intelligence and social-communication activities.
Operational actions and measures are episodic and may occur during a situation of normality or as a means of coercion during a period of con- stitutional exception, where the following measures may be adopted: esta- blishment of checkpoints on highways or urban streets; search and seizure of persons, weapons, ammunition and other illicit materials; identification of persons and monitoring of movement; interdiction or evacuation of areas; and riot control to ensure the safety of citizens and authorities.
In both preventive and operational actions in an urban environment, the military police must limit the use of force and the restrictions on the population. Mandatory basic principles for the troops involved include the maximum use of deterrence, social communication, psychological opera- tions and intelligence.
Helicopters are an indispensable element of visible-policing operations in an urban environment because they guarantee flexibility, mobility and firepower to the supported troops. They may be used as shooting plat- forms, observation and command posts, or elements of a demonstration of force in deterrence actions. In addition, helicopters assist with psychologi- cal operations, transporting attack or interdiction groups to their objec- tives in areas of difficult access, and in aerial medical evacuations.
However, helicopters are highly vulnerable to the use of firearms with a flat trajectory, especially when hovering at low altitudes. A UAV sup- porting visible-policing operations represents an advantage in replacing helicopters in achieving these missions.
Initially, the main benefits include the reduction in fuel costs and the increase in flight autonomy. The utilization of a UAV in these operational conditions allows for missions of longer duration, with a reduction in fuel consumption because the UAV could be launched and landed near areas of disturbance, without utilizing nearby airfields. Likewise, there would be no need to rotate the crew and no corresponding increase in the consumption of aviation fuel.
The use of a UAV eliminates the considerable vulnerability of heli- copters if exposed to automatic and semi-automatic rifle fire while flying at low altitudes. The UAV’s small size provides an additional safeguard against such fire. Since it is unmanned, there is no risk of crew members being hit by shots fired at the aircraft.