1. Drones for Good. In the last decade or so an industry, which almost rivals the growth of the automobile industry, is the drones business. Use cases grow by the day as innovators use drones for agriculture,  forestry,  water resources, rivers and waterways management,  infrastructure monitoring,  health, railways,  shipping, ports and harbours and more recently the increasingly use of drones as cargo carriers delivering pizzas, parcels, medicines, vaccines or even human organs.
  2. Drones for Evil.  Drones also create the opportunity for miscreants and criminals to exploit the technology for a host of criminal and terror activities. These include privacy intrusion and secret photography, snooping on RF and mobile transmissions, as a platform for release of a variety of weapons such as conventional explosives, Chemicals, Biologicals, Radiological or Nuclear devices and also conduct kamikaze type of attacks on infrastructure, sensitive areas of congregations of populations such as religious gathering,  political rallies etc. Other Drone borne applications combined with AI is to create deep fake maps which create alarm and force responses that opponents desire the state to make. A summary of applications is presented in the colour coded image with dark red images requiring bigger drones.
  3. Drone Attacks. India has witnessed its first drone based attack though incidents of drones found in sensitive places – fortunately unarmed  –  such as the Parliament are well documented.  These can disrupt the fabric of the country and create mindless panic. Globally, the incidence of drones for attack on infrastructure, installations and military bases are numerous. These include the drone attack on two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia on 15 Sep 2019 and the ongoing use of drones in, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia-Azerbaijan and the Turkey-Yemen operations.
  4. Rule Position.  The Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India has published Rules vide GSR 174 E dated  12 March 2021, for import, manufacturing and operation of drones and Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management System. However, rules by themselves do not enforce compliance.  Concurrently the state needs to be empowered with appropriate systems that can enforce violations and detect, deter and defeat drones even before the execution of illegal, disruptive and dangerous activities. This is vitally required as the post COVID scenario is seeing a huge burst in drone applications and its increased availability at low cost can be a stimulus for unlawful activities. This has not been addressed.
  5. Anti-Drone Systems.   These anti-drone systems are combined with volumetric surveillance systems to provide a sealed ‘dome’ around the asset/resource to be protected. These comprise:-
  6. Compact High Definition Radars. These are usially X Band systems though it is prefarbel to get to Ku or even better Ka systems
  7. Combined Electro optic and Short Wave infrared cameras with image intenisfiers. typical ‘sights’ used in small arms are a good basic element and this needs the features of Pan Tilt and Zoom
  8. Acoustic system – which may be useful for larger drones as electrically powered small and ‘smaller’ drones are very silent
  9. RF system to pick up the signals from the uplink and downlink signals
  10. A drone gun systems which may include a combination of :-
    1. Soft kill systems such as spot jammers, barrage jammers and Omni jammers to disrupt the communication systems of the Drone thereby forcing the drone to either land on the spot or return to home
    1. Hard kill weapons such as a 12.7 mm machine gun slewed to the surveillance systems to physically destroy a drone as it approaches the area of interest.
    2. Alternate systems such as counter drone ‘drones’ than can be flown to trap or destroy a drone.
  11. Ruggedised command and control system fitted with appropriate communications that synthesises the data received from various sensors and recommends the response required using a simple AI algorithm
  12. A tower structure that accommodates these systems in one composite structure with appropriate cabling and harness, battery pack etc.
  13. Mobile Systems. These systems can also be fitted onto vehicles to provide protection during motion particularly for protection of VIP convoys or the carriage of particular goods which are sensitive to disruption or interception by miscreants such as security vans carrying cash and other valuables.
  14. Indigenous Technology. This technology has already been developed in India by several companies either by themselves or in partnership with foreign OEMs. This development needs to be encouraged.
  15. Conclusion. The recent incident in Jammu should alarm the establishment that anti-drone systems are now a vital necessity for the protection of critical infrastructure, military bases, national communication centers, transportation hubs and during functions such as political rallies or religious gatherings. In all these events the main purpose of terrorism is served since it creates a disproportionate amount of alarm compared to the limited cost of delivery of the weapon.
  16. Recommendation. Anti-drone system are weapons and must be controlled in their availability. Therefore, anti-drone systems must only be exclusively acquired and operated by a single national agency since it requires technologically skilled operators, sophisticated maintenance routines and complex test equipment. Since this constitutes a part of the overall air defence of the nation this responsibility is best assigned to the Indian Air Force who can integrate these anti drone systems with overall national air defence plan, air defence identification zones and be part of the proposed Air Defence Command of the Ministry of Defence.


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