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This article is about the unmanned aerial vehicle. You may be looking for Cipher, an alias of both the Patriots and its leader, Zero.


The Cypher is a saucer-type unmanned aerial vehicle used for surveillance and communication support of land and marine operations.


The Cypher is capable of vertical take-offs and landings in tight areas measuring as small as 3.5 meters. It uses a ducted airstream from its rotors and the surrounding shroud to fly and can stay airborne for approximately three hours. The Cypher also features a fully autonomous system that allows for tracking and analysis of man-sized targets, with its flight pattern and output controlled from a nearby Integrated Mobile Ground Station. The Cypher transmits its status and mission data to its controller via data-link.

An armed variant known as the Gun Cypher, is equipped with a machinegun for use as an unmanned weapon.


In 1974, the CIA mercenary group Peace Sentinel used unmanned weapons known as "Kidnappers" that possessed a similar appearance to the later Cyphers.

In 1984, the mercenary group Diamond Dogs used unmanned surveillance vehicles to guard Mother Base.

The Manhattan Incident

See also: Tanker Incident and the Big Shell Incident

Gun Cypher

In 2007, a United States Army Cypher was used to photograph Solid Snake aboard the USS Discovery. The photographs were later used by the Patriots to frame Snake and Philanthropy for the tanker's destruction. After initially mistaking it for a Marine Cypher-T, Otacon speculated that the reason the Army had sent the craft was because they had an interest in the Marines' Metal Gear RAY project, similar to the Gurlukovich Mercenaries.[1]

At some point between 2007 and 2009, the military developed the machinegun-armed Gun Cypher.[2]

In 2009, both surveillance and armed Cypher variants were used by the terrorist group Sons of Liberty to guard areas of the Big Shell, many of which were evaded by FOXHOUND operative Raiden. Upon discovering an intruder, the Cyphers would alert any nearby patrols via data transmission to its controller. A Cypher was responsible for alerting the Tengu commandos of Raiden's and Solid Snake's presence within Arsenal Gear's Ileum section.

Behind the scenes

In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the Cypher's sensors can be temporarily confused by using chaff to set up an electronic interference field, which also blocks its movement. The Cypher itself can be destroyed in one hit from a rifle or handgun by damaging its camera, or in the case of Gun Cyphers, its gun.

Solid Snake uses a Cypher for vertical recovery in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. An unlockable trophy describes the Cypher thusly:

An unmanned aerial surveillance vehicle used by the U.S. Army. It uses a fan in the center of its body to hover and a camera on its upper fuselage to monitor from the skies. It has a number of models, including the armed Gun Cypher and the remodeled Cypher II. Its small size and continuous flight ability make it extremely effective in guarding against intruders.

While it is most likely a coincidence, the term "Cipher" (with a "i" instead of a "y") would later be used in the Metal Gear series to refer to the early incarnation of The Patriots, which first appear in Metal Gear Solid 2 along with the drone.



Notes and references

  1. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    This is mentioned in a Codec call to Otacon during the Tanker Chapter.
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (script), Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    The Colonel calls in a Codec warning to Raiden as he encounters a Cypher (an unmanned aerial surveillance vehicle). // Colonel: Raiden, watch your back! That’s a Cypher, a type of UAV! // The Gun Cypher is a new model. Display the Cypher visual inside the Codec screen

See also