The Evolution of Anti-Drone Weapons

The race to build the future might not be making as much progress as the race to shoot it down.

As commercial drone companies get closer and closer to putting a UAV in every family home around the globe, the security risks are evident – and for various international defence agencies – a very real concern.

“DARPA is interested in exploring the potential for developing and demonstrating system solutions, including sensors and effectors, to enable detection, identification, tracking, and neutralization of sUAS threats.” – taken from a Request For Information (RFI) document posted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in August 2016.

Even before DARPA launched its interest in developing the perfect ‘drone shooter’ the US Military already had a few systems of its own to trial and test out on the battlefield. Now as hostile drones have become an issue for the private sector as well as the military, new solutions have been developed and so the anti-drone arms race is on.

1.)  30 Kw Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on the USS Ponce – 2014

Although not exclusively designed to neutralize UAV’s this laser turret mounted on the USS Ponce back in 2014 made short work of the fixed wing UAS in this video. The laser is highly accurate, operated remotely with a video-game-like controller and reportedly cost less than a dollar per shot.

The hype around lasers hasn’t diminished in the US Military, reports of testing a 150Kw laser weapon for the Navy surfaced more than two years later and has become a confirmed goal for the US Navy to achieve before January 2018.

“Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations,” Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research, said in a press release back in 2014.

2.) GBAD Truck Mounted Laser and Sensors – 2015

Although still undergoing its third and final phase of testing, the Ground-Based Air Defence design for detecting and neutralizing drones looks both scalable and dynamic enough for regular use on the battle field. After completing the first two phases of its testing the GBAD system must now demonstrate the ability to fire its 30Kw laser whilst on the move.


3.) DroneShield DroneGun – 2016

Finally, one of the most interesting developments in the anti-drone arms race is DroneShield’s DroneGun. DroneShield are not the only company to build a signal and GPS jammer in the form of a rifle but they are perhaps the most popular with the above video collecting more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.

The weapon is able to neutralise hostile drones up to 2km away and have them safely land either right below where they are flying or back to their starting destination. The DroneGun is illegal in the United States.

Where Unmanned Life fits in –

Although U-Life has no interest or desire to partake in the development of anti-drone weaponry it is interesting to see the latest technology used to help combat the improper use of UAV’s. Our A-DaaS software platform actually allows normal commercial drones to fly autonomously in GPS denied environments, like inside warehouses and sorting centres, so the DroneGun wouldn’t be much use against us!

Indoor drones fleet on BT mobile phone network from Unmanned Life on Vimeo.

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