The PJ Tatler

Fighting Back in the Game of Drones

More and more, we are worried about domestic drones. Shooting them down may not be the best idea.

But what to do?

We thought we had heard it all when a drone landed by the Oval Office. Now, stories of illicit drone activity are everywhere from the U.S. Open to on-scene at forest fires and hovering over commercial airports.

For everybody’s problem, somebody’s answer is pass another law.

In fact, there are already lots of laws banning drones. Drones, for example, are already forbidden from flying in and around our nation’s capital. That didn’t help keep them off the White House lawn.

You can’t fly drones in a federal park either. That didn’t stop a Dutch tourist from crashing one into the hot springs at Yellowstone.

For real security from the malicious use of drones, something more substantial may be required.

Daniel Gouré, a deep thinker at the Lexington Institute, argues the answer is technology.

The first trick is finding the pesky drone.

“There is a new family of lightweight, even portable, radars,” he suggests, “with sufficient fidelity to detect extremely small, lightweight drones and quadrotors.”

The second task is stopping the drone.

“It appears,” Gouré concludes, “that the best techniques for defeating small, hostile drones involve some form of electronic or cyber attack.” Electronic interference can be used to break the link with the ground controller or disrupt the on-board guidance system.

There are also more robust and exotic solutions  for protecting high-priority targets including using directed energy systems to protect critical infrastructure.

Drones are not (necessarily) our enemies. They have all kinds of potential uses for a 21st century economy.

Banning them or overly restricting applications makes no sense. Being sensible makes sense.

When it comes to protecting important stuff from prying eyes, malicious exploitation, or deadly attack, the best answer may well be a generation of security anti-drone technologies that are suited for that purpose.