The Neutralization of Drones 

unmanned systems

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Drones (and sUAS) constitute a considerable threat to the population, security and civilian installations (airports, nuclear power stations, etc.), as well as to military troops. As in every other security and military field, there is a swift development of a ‘counter’ realm that includes drone detection, identification and neutralization systems. 

Beyond the vast, accumulated knowledge, the research and development and the manufacturing of the systems attract many private companies, as well as governmental agencies involved in the development and manufacturing, alongside investment in private companies.

The various threats and scenarios caused by drones require the adjustment of solutions to the perimeter, environment and the protected factor. The countermeasures are divided into detection and identification systems, and neutralization systems. The variety of methods and the hundreds of companies involved in this field require the information and knowledge to evaluate, test and choose the right countermeasures.

The detection field offers a variety of methods [radio waves (RF and radar) and light waves (IR, ER, LiDAR)]. Due to the specific advantages and disadvantages of each method, many systems integrate various sensors and detection and identification methods, compensating for the sensors’ deficiencies. There are consequences regarding the complexity and costs of the systems. 

The field of drone neutralization systems also encompasses a wide variety of systems and methods, and high accuracy is required for friend or foe identification in order to ensure that no friendly drones are harmed; the systems are also required to minimize collateral damage and prevent any damage to troops and population as a result of intercepted drones.

Non-kinetic neutralization solutions: While neutralizing through jamming might cause collateral damage to other critical measures or communications, it enables a ‘widespread’ operation. The neutralization by taking control (spoofing), i.e. gaining control over an adverse drone and landing it safely with minimum collateral damage requires more complex communication and analytic capabilities.

Kinetic neutralization solutions (laser, bullets, nets, collision with another drone) are based on physical damage or a ‘one vs. one’ jamming and their application is highly challenging as drones are usually sophisticated, miniature and agile. They might also cause considerable collateral damage if they miss the target or when a damaged drone falls to the ground.

Therefore, the combination of two or more detection and identification systems, and the integration of non-kinetic and kinetic neutralization methods increase the effectiveness of the operation. In any event, the combination must be adapted to the threat scenario and the operation environment.

Integrated detection and identification. For example, the detection of the drone by a radar that screens a perimeter, and its identification through an optical system. The latter also enables surveillance as well as the submission of the neutralizing means – focused blocking and neutralization by shooting.

Shooting requires target tracking and locking capability, as well as the calculation of the target’s location, its direction and speed, and the bullets’ velocity. Jamming systems must also be well focused to refrain from jamming critical frequencies and friendly drones.

The use of bullets or explosives for the interception of drones has several limitations, including damage or injury to uninvolved assets and the public. The solution is to define no-shooting areas, and aircraft can be intercepted only by jamming or spoofing, as a first priority. Another advantage of a system that includes a machine gun is shooting at non-aircraft targets, e.g. people or vehicles.