The Bundeswehr uses an old radar (Image: Wikipedia, public domain).

To detect unwanted drones, the Bundeswehr has a “light battlefield reconnaissance radar” from the French arms company Thales. It is used for reconnaissance of moving targets on the ground and at low altitudes. The technique is poorly suited for drone defense because it also has to detect false alarms, such as birds or drones, that are licensed for commercial use.

This arsenal now equips the Bundeswehr. For the protection of barracks, five stationary systems are purchased, they are to make dangerous drones harmless. In addition, the Bundeswehr wants to buy 30 “portable cell phone  jammer equipment”. The device “HP 47+” comes from the company H.P. Marketing & Consulting Wüst GmbH, which specializes in the production of jamming transmitters. For the effect of the manufacturer writes that drones could be forced to land or “sent back to the starting point” to identify the controlling person.


The radars for the discovery of drones will soon be replaced by new technology. The Ministry of Defense commissioned a study from IABG. To detect and classify an approaching aircraft, the manufacturers of this technology rely on different methods. The first detection and subsequent tracking of the trajectory can be done with motion detectors and cameras. Different sensors simultaneously analyze motion, appearance, electromagnetic or electrostatic emissions or temperature. The drones can also be identified by their sound or the radio frequency of the remote control.

In Germany, six different Fraunhofer institutes are conducting research on such processes: radar devices with a range of several kilometers, directional microphones and laser rangefinders. Bundeswehr aircraft (WTD 61) at a technical demonstration at the headquarters of the department in Manching last week. This refers to multi-kilo multi-rotors weighing several kilograms, which carry a camera or other sensors.

In Germany, the data of the owners must be affixed on a sticker on the device. However, in many countries, the sale or use of unmanned systems is not regulated, which could endanger them as a “terrorist weapon” for the military in the field. At least that’s what the federal government is writing. Small drones have thus proved to be “a versatile technical tool in the planning, execution and evaluation of operations of terrorist organizations”. As a “terrorist act” they would be used for “airborne reconnaissance and espionage, to identify potential vulnerabilities in the run-up to attacks and steering steep-field fires”.

While drone defense systems for the early detection and localization of the drone pilots are being installed at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, German airports are having a hard time. “To our knowledge, there is currently no suitable technology available that enables full detection and defense in urban areas,” says the airport operator Fraport in Frankfurt, which was again paralyzed by drones a few days ago.

There are already a number of systems, some of which have been tried and tested for years, that reliably locate drones and their pilots. The security authorities could then be informed in a matter of minutes. After all, flight cancellations due to drone sightings are not only annoying for passengers, but above all expensive for the airlines. And if the drone pilots are not troublemakers, but terrorists, then such incidents are dangerous above all.

Finding the drone pilot is the freestyle

“Detecting the drone is mandatory. The freestyle is to find the pilot, “says Markus Piendl, product manager Magenta drone protection shield at T-Systems, a company of Deutsche Telekom. Each drone carries a kind of fingerprint that is spread by radio. In a database, the data of countless drones are stored. That ranges from the only 18-gram “Black Hornet” from Norway, which can fly through window panes tilted by hand, to the almost 12-meter-long “Wing Loong 1” of the Chinese supplier Avic.