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Anti-drone solutions: Hard kill, soft kill and layered approach

Anti-drone solutions: Hard kill, soft kill and layered approach
In this article, we take a closer look at some of the anti-drone technologies/solutions currently available in the market.
In the previous article, we looked at increased threats posed by drones. This then necessitates an anti-drone or counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS). In this article, we take a closer look at some of the anti-drone technologies/solutions currently available in the market.
Drones are like a double-edged sword in perimeter security. On the positive side, they can complement conventional perimeter solutions to better detect intrusion and threats. But when drones are themselves the intruders, they can do significant damage to the end user entity as well.
“Drones present an incredible opportunity for increased productivity, safety, and even security. Having said that, like every tool, in the wrong hands, drones can pose an equally daunting threat,” said Mary-Lou Smulders, CMO at Dedrone. “Drones are currently a huge threat to critical infrastructure — a broadly defined category that includes 16 different sectors, from facilities like stadiums, power plants, schools, airports, financial services hubs and more.”
“Drones are capable of carrying various payloads, including cameras, SIGINT devices, and even weapons and explosives,” said Ofer Kachan, CTO of Skylock C-UAS Systems. “The operation of drones has become more user-friendly, and their cost-effectiveness has improved significantly. This accessibility allows any individual or organization to acquire a drone, or even build one, and utilize it for their specific requirements.”

C-UAS solutions

To counter these intruding drones, C-UAS solutions are needed. Below we take a closer look at what technologies are available and how they should be implemented for maximal results.

Layered approach

It should be noted that a good counter-drone solution should be implemented in a layered approached, focusing on detection, acquisition and mitigation.
“The initial stage in combating drones is detection. Given their small size and quiet operation, locating drones can be a challenge. This is addressed using a combination of active and passive sensors, which provide geolocation, elevation, and signals intelligence (SIGINT) about the drone, including its frequency, protocol type, and model,” Kachan said.
The next phase is acquisition or tracking. “(This is) typically achieved with an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) system. This gives visual intelligence (VISINT) about the drone, revealing the type of payload it carries, such as weapons, cameras, or contraband,” Kachan added.


Then comes the mitigation phase, for which there are various methods. These are discussed as follows:
Soft kill: This entails cutting off the drone’s communication with its pilot or source. “The so-called soft kill system refers to drone prevention through signal jamming and blocking. By releasing specific signals or interfering with the opponent's signals, the opponent's drones will not be able to carry out their intended actions or even land,” said Charity Lin, VP of Strategic Partnership at Tronfuture.
“Jamming a drone creates a virtual wall between the remote and the drone, stopping the drone from receiving a signal. In this case, the drone is programmed to fly back to its take-off location. This is a non-invasive way to stop a single drone or a drone swarm without any physical damage to the drone or its surroundings,” Smulders said.
Hard kill: Hard kill, on the other hand, entails physically incapacitating the drone. “The hard kill system is based on the principle of shooting down the opponent's drone directly. The actual execution methods are diverse, including capture by net, suicide shoot down, and shoot down by ammunition, among others,” Lin said.
“This category of drone mitigations refers to physically affecting the drone in some way from drone net guns, to ‘kamikaze’ drones (referring to the practice of WWII suicidal Japanese air force pilots crashing their planes into US battleships) and more,” Smulders said.
Locate pilot and have the pilot bring the drone down: According to Smulders, in the U.S., this is the only legal path that state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) law enforcement agencies currently have to stop a drone.
Hack the drone: Certain technologies can directly hack into and take control of a drone. “This allows security teams to land the drone in a safe location of their choosing. Dedrone offers the user the ability to integrate with cyber take-over technologies and initiate and control that form of mitigation,” Smulders said.

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