Columns

Watch How a New Gun Knocks Drones Out of the Sky

(DroneShield photo)

The company behind development of a gun to take down drones that are hostile, suspicious or crossing into restricted airspace released test footage today of a portable, battery-powered rifle taking down an unmanned craft.

DroneGun Tactical is made by Australia-based DroneShield Ltd., which also has a Northern Virginia office. The jamming device “allows for a controlled management of drone payload such as explosives, with no damage to common drones models or surrounding environment due to the drones generally responding via a vertical controlled landing on the spot, or returning back to the starting point,” which aids authorities in tracking the drone operator, the company said.

The gun has a range of up to 1,094 yards — a little under two-thirds of a mile — with continuous line of sight and is billed as operating when the outside temps range from 4 degrees below zero to 131 degrees.

As soon as the drone gun locks on the target, it disrupts video transmission that the drone operator may be using to surveil authorities.

The rectangular device weighs 15 pounds, comes with a carrying case and a 12-month warranty, and can operate for at least 30 minutes on its rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

However, ordinary folks in the United States can’t buy one to knock neighbors’ annoying drones out of the sky. Thanks to Federal Communications Commission rules, only the federal government can buy or lease a DroneGun; the U.S. military is conducting trials with the equipment.

At last spring’s ASEAN Summit in Sydney, Australian Defence Force members used a DroneGun configuration “for the protection of the participants from potential drone threats” since “monitoring of drone activity at high profile events has become an important component of event management, similar to perimeter access control or participant credentialing,” the company said.

The National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin updated in September noted terrorists’ potential to use drones and chemical attacks outside of the groups’ occupied territory and conflict zones.

In October, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned that “terrorists and criminals are already using drones to surveil, smuggle, kill and destroy and our country is in the cross-hairs.” National Counterterrorism Center Acting Director Russ Travers also told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that “we’re in the early stages of seeing terrorist use of drones and UASs for swarm attacks, explosive delivery means and even assassination attempts.”

Days later, an poster from an ISIS-allied group showed a commercial drone grasping a sizable object flying next to the Eiffel Tower, which is framed in crosshairs. A jihadist was depicted walking away. “Await for our surprises,” said the message.

That same month, al-Qaeda suggested it could take on battleships with a fleet of drones. The issue of English-language al-Haqiqa, published by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, or the al-Qaeda coalition in Syria, illustrated drones dropping explosives on seafaring warships, with the words, “The Prophet said, ‘Do not wish to meet the enemy, but when you meet the enemy be patient.'”