Launching Attack

  • Terrorists have many options to choose from when launching the attack. The objective is to knock out three or more critical infrastructure transmission lines and/or transformers as quickly as possible.


  • Terrorists could start their attack on the grid  with a diversionary attack to draw police away from the power lines and power transformers. Causing multiple traffic accidents by spraying oil on one or more major highways will accomplish that objective.


  • Terrorists with light  military weapons; explosives and RPGs  can easily penetrate any reinforce substation walls then use either the explosives and RPGs to destroy the critical large power transformers.


  • Terrorist need  15 minutes or less to blast their way into a substation then destroy the transformers. 15 minutes is not enough time for police or the military to stop the attack.


  • Terrorists  could use easily obtained small  drones to attack  the power lines and transformers.  Drones have the advantage of being able to fly considerable distances undetected then fly over the substation reinforced protective walls and  quickly reach the transformers before counter measures can be effective.


  • The terrorists would use the detailed Ariel photos of the substation and surrounding area obtained from the internet to locate a concealed drone launch site, map the route to the substation and locate  the transformers in the substation.    The camera mounted on the drone would be used to fly the drone to the target.


  • Terrorist could also use small drones or radio controlled model air planes to attack the insulators on the transmission power lines.  It is impossible to prevent a successful drone or model air plane attack on power line insulators because the security forces can not protect a transmission line that is 10’s or 100’s of miles long and mostly located in remote areas. This characteristic makes attacking power lines much easier for lone wolf terrorists but they need to be able to attack multiple power lines in quick succession to be effective in blacking out a target city. Since power lines carrying electricity to the city are miles apart this creates a logistic problem for a lone wolf terrorist. With proper planning even lone wolf terrorist can attack multiple power lines before security forces can neutralize them.


  • The city-wide power outage resulting from damaging insulators on multiple power lines will be a short duration, days or a week until the damaged insulators are replace. Even in remote areas replacing an insulator is quick if done from a helicopter. Destroying multiple critical transformers is the  way to cause a devastating attack.


  • Successfully attacking an energized transformer with a drone is more difficult than with explosives or an RPG , which are equally effective on a de energized transformer . Because small drone can not transport weapons capable of penetrating the steel transformer tank alternative means of damaging the winding insulation  must  be employed. Shorting out energized transformer bushing may damage the windings but not reliably. That will temporarily make the transformer unavailable until the bushings are replaced. Replacing damaged bushing(s) and restoring the transformer to carrying load current can take up to several weeks for a large critical transformers if the correct spare bushings  and the specialized construction and oil processing equipment needed  are available.


  • Destroying a de energized transformer with a drone is possible but more difficult. The best way is to somehow set the transformer on fire. Large power transformers can have a hundred tons of paper insulation, structural wood and other flammable cellulose structural material. The transformer tank is filled with hundreds of tons of mineral oil. Once the transformer is on fire there it is usually left to burn for days as it is destroyed anyway and putting out a transformer fire is difficult and risky.


  • An ultra light or small private aircraft could carry a bigger payload of explosives or incendiary device to bomb critical transformers either energized or de energized. Either aircraft would require considerably more skill to fly and pre planning to obtain than a drone.