A radiation-sensing helicopter will fly at low-altitude over Tampa, United States, as part of counterterrorism surveillance in preparation for the Super Bowl game.

A passive radiation-sensing system will be fitted on a Bell 412 helicopter of the Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST), operating from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. During the day, the aircraft will fly in a grid pattern over downtown Tampa and its surroundings, at an altitude of about 150 feet (45 meters). Onboard, personnel from the Nevada National Security Site’s Remote Sensing Laboratory will record the normal amount of radiation in the area, in order to be able to quickly identify any unusual spikes before, during, or after an event.

The operation was announced by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)  to warn the population of the upcoming low-level flights. They should take place between February 1 and 3, 2021, in anticipation of the 55th edition of the Super Bowl, which is to take place in the Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, Florida, on February 7, 2021.

“These flights are regularly conducted prior to major public events, including presidential inaugurations and Super Bowls,” explains the NNSA. The flights relating to Joe Biden’s Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C. on January 20, 2021, took place back on October 19, 2020.