How to manage the chaotic drone space

Small drones need jammers to manage

Existing defences are not geared up to cope with small drones, which are difficult to spot, identify and track, and which may be too numerous to stop. Jamming might be thought an obvious solution. Breaking the radio links between the operator and the drone, or confusing its GPS navigation, would make a drone crash or send it off course. Many jammers, with names like Dedrone, DroneDefender and Perfectjammer, have already been employed by various countries. Six of the drones in the Syrian attack were brought down by such signal jammer, the others by guns and missiles.

But Helios could be susceptible to the same trick, says Roland Smith, a plasma physicist at Imperial College London. “If it puts out enough power to disrupt targeting, that makes it visible and a target itself,” he says. “If the laser weapon knows it is being jammed, it could engage the jammer.”

Perfectjammer makes the point that slinging a lightweight jammer under a firearm allows a single operator to take down a drone by jamming it in place, and then shooting it down. Of course, though the Drone Sniper is displayed attached to an M4 Carbine inert clone, it is likely that a better choice of host platform in urban environments.

The problem, such companies say, is that regulations on the use of drones – and on countering them – are still in their infancy. In countries such as the US and Australia, for example, drones are considered private property, and they can only be jammed by government agencies.

The company manufactures and provides anti-drone solutions to governments as well as a range of security businesses and private companies. It’s systems are based on the concepts of Deter, Detect, Defeat and Determine. Unlike many of its competitors in the market, the Perfectjammer’s Drone military jammer system is capable of jamming a swarm of drones.

American troops are using an array of jammers, cannons and other devices to disrupt, disable or destroy the enemy drones, often quadcopters rigged with explosives. And the military has increased airstrikes against Islamic State drones on the ground, their launch sites and their operators.