Counter-drone: The race is on

Experts say models readily available on the market can easily be turned into a “poor man’s weapon”

Why counter-drone?

We’ve seen a huge increase in drone users in recent years. From toy style gyrocopters for kids to several hundred pounds worth of quadcopters capturing stunning scenery.

Drones were especially popular for history lovers in the UK and Ireland this summer.
The unusually dry weather revealed the scars of historical sites on the landscape – only visible from the air.

In Ireland, a WWII sign was revealed after dry weather, wildfires and a spot of rain, leading to calls for this historic sign to be reinstated.

The clear majority of drone users are hobbyists and professional photographers/videographers who are embracing the emerging technology. Business’s too are using drones as internal and external inspection tools.

But there are those out there who look for any advancement in technology to put to ill-use. As a result, counter-drone technology is on the rise.

Poor man’s weapon

Todd Humphreys specialises in drone research, as a professor at the University of Austin. He see’s drones as an opportunity to be used as a “poor man’s weapon”.

“This is going to be the weapon of choice for those who feel that they are technically outmatched in other areas,” said Todd.

You’ll have heard about the attempted assassination on President Nicolas Maduro earlier this month when two drones armed with explosives flew towards the president mid-speech. Luckily the drones were unsuccessful in claiming lives, although some were injured, and buildings were damaged. It’s not clear if this was due to counter-drone technology.

“We have a strategy of surveillance, inquiry and material testing,” said Colonel Jean-Francois Morel of France’s gendarme police force, who said 400,000 civilian drones were sold in the country last year.

Groupe de sécurité de la présidence de la République, or GSPR (French secret service if you will), took down a drone over Fort de Brégançon – a popular summer spot for French presidents.
Due to the earlier attack in Venezuela, the GSPR wasn’t in the mood for checking if this was an innocent hobby drone capturing footage.

It’s believed the drone was targeted with a counter-drone jamming device, which overpowers the drone’s receivers and removes control from the operator, forcing the drone to land or return to home.
In this case, the drone crashed into the sea.

It’s likely this French drone had no ill intent, but with the ease of arming an over the counter-drone, it’s now a case of better safe than sorry. Even without the fear of armed drones, many are capable of capturing private moments with high-resolution cameras.

“It is very difficult to hit a drone that is coming at high speed, at 100 km/h, and it’s not hard to build drones that do that,” Mr Humphreys said.

“Even if you could hit one drone that came in at high speed, what if five or 10 of them attacked you all at once?”

New tech

Counter drone technology, such as M.A.D.S, are becoming increasingly popular with security services and individuals who value their safety and privacy. These technologies are the silent, constant aerial guardians leaving their users with peace of mind, such as Harvey Sutton.

A Yacht Manager, Harvey needed a reliable product to invest in.

“We chose the M.A.D.S™ system from Martek for our clients because it was overwhelmingly the most proven and best value product on the market designed specifically to withstand the rigours off maritime application. Their ‘Platinum’ package offered unique value compared to everything else. With 18-years of maritime pedigree, a global service presence & exceptional financial strength, we know Martek will be there when we need them.”

Find out the cost to your safety now.

Drones Shot Down By Russian Military

Fighters in the de-escalation zone in Idlib, Syria, launched two drones with then intent to attack Russian forces.

According to the Russian defence ministry, two Syrian rebel drones were shot down near the Hmeinmim base.

“During the past day, radars of the Russian airbase at Hmeimim spotted two unmanned aerial vehicles launched from the Idlib de-escalation zone controlled by illegal armed groups,” chief of the Russia Centre for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties Alexei Tsygankov

The drones were detected by the airbases radar systems, and anti-air missile defence systems down the unmanned craft.

With the Russian spokesperson claiming these drones were detected by radar systems and downed using missile systems, this would imply the drones were not the small hobby aircraft which has been identified as a threat recently.

Armed “hobby drones” are a particular threat to undefended ports or ships due to their ease of use, low cost of entry and capabilities.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group claims five drones were shot down when approaching the Russian military base on 14th August. The group went on to claim this was the fifth time in as many days that drones have been downed on approach to the Russian base.

A small drone was able to land undetected on HMS Queen Elizabeth last year. Security only became aware of the incident when the pilot reported what had happened to the staff at the port entrance.

Commercial drones have been used extensively by groups in conflicts around the world – mainly for reconnaissance.

The Ukranian army pays for images taken from civilian drone users in their battle with pro-Russian forces. Without these over the counter drones, the Ukranian forces would be blind.

“Military drones have a great future,” Says Aleksandr, who runs a volunteer drone repairs from Kiev. “Drones have no fear and are capable of executing almost any task the army requires. That’s something the government should think about.” He is convinced that, in the future, wars will be fought with unmanned aerial vehicles.

With £900 drones being used in war zones in recce/weaponised roles, it is only a matter of time before this practice becomes more and more common in more heavily populated areas. Unfortunately, it seem’s like an obvious tool for terror organisations to access.

To combat these emerging drone threats Martek Marine have developed the M.A.D.S ™ maritime anti-drone system.

M.A.D.S ™ detects and identifies commercial drones within a 5+km range, providing GPS positioning of both drone & pilot together with the drone’s speed & heading. Configurable and escalating stage alarms in real time allow the threat level to be assessed in good time to decide on appropriate defence actions.

Click here to find out how M.A.D.S ™ can play a role in your future protection.

A Drone Wielding Terrorist in just 30 minutes

Having written quite extensively about the threat of a drone being used to attack people and infrastructure, I wanted to investigate just how easy it was to use these “hobby craft” for no good.

Drone Presidential Attack
Alleged footage from the Presidential drone attack shows a drone hover before exploding

Since coming up with the idea to write this article, there was an alleged drone attack on the Venezuelan President whilst giving a speech at a military parade. On the live feed, the president and his wife looked startled staring into the sky, then there were audible explosions and the crowd could be seen running.

Continue reading “A Drone Wielding Terrorist in just 30 minutes”

Detect & Defeat Drone Threats for Superyachts Ships

The superyacht fraternity are waking up to the growing threat that drones pose to privacy, safety & security on-board their yachts. Recent years have seen a massive advance in drone endurance, range and payload capacity whilst the price has also plummeted, leading to a proliferation of drones expected to reach 12million by 2020.

Continue reading “Detect & Defeat Drone Threats for Superyachts Ships”