Report: Countering the hostile use of drones

A recent report recommends a “hierarchy of countermeasures” to address the threats various non-state actors can pose using widely available and inexpensive drones.

What: “Hostile Drones: The Hostile Use of Drones by Non-State Actors Against British Targets,” a report by the Remote Control project on the threats posed to government targets by widely available and inexpensive  unmanned vehicles.

Why: While affording a great resource to industries such as agriculture, film and real estate, the increased proliferation of unmanned systems also has given malicious actors a new means of threatening critical government assets.  Drones can be turned into inexpensive flying bombs, and also give non-state militant groups unprecedented intelligence and surveillance capabilities. 

Findings: The report outlines the wide array of threats that have governments concerned:

Lone wolves, or individuals with malicious intent, are becoming more commonplace.  Between January 2013 and August 2015, the report stated, there were 20 suspicious drone related incidents in or around London.   

Terrorist groups are using drones primarily for inexpensive aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on the battlefield but are also deploying them for filming propaganda and remotely controlling vehicles laden with explosives.  

Insurgent, such as separatist groups in Ukraine and Colombia, have deployed drones to improve operations.  

Corporations have used drones to obtain sensitive information for competitive advantage. 

Organized crime groups have smuggled illegal drugs over the border via drones and evaded the ground border patrol agents. 

Activist groups have used drones to support campaigns supporting political candidates or protesting government policies.

Recommendations:  The authors advise governments to craft a defense that employs “a hierarchy of countermeasures encompassing regulatory countermeasures, passive countermeasures and active countermeasures.”

Regulatory countermeasures would include enforcing requirements at the point of sale, imposing civil aviation rules and enforcing manufacturing standards and restrictions, such as built-in no-fly zones or firmware. 

Passive countermeasures are those such as commercial solutions that track incoming vehicles or jam the signal of incoming drones. 

Active countermeasures would disable drones by firing projectiles or deploying laser defense systems that are aimed at mitigating collateral damage.  In the continental U.S., these measures are typically not permitted; but they can be deployed to military installations globally to protect assets and personnel.

Get More: Read the full report here.

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