It almost looks like a drawing right out of a Ray Bradbury novel, but it is real. Engineers from Britain have developed a defense shield to shoot down drones that they believe could be used in terrorist attacks or attempts to smuggle drugs.
From The Telegraph:
Researchers at Luton-based electronic warfare group Selex have invented a system which can locate, identify and then control the remotely-piloted aircraft which could pose a threat to public safety or people’s privacy.
The market for such a device could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, according to Selex’s analysis.
Called Falcon Shield, the system uses cameras, radar and advanced electronics which monitor signals being broadcast to and transmitted by drones to track them and work out what type they are.
If they are deemed to be a threat, Falcon Shield then uses classified technology which allows it take control of or even crash drones.
The risks posed by drones have hit the headlines recently with reports of them in the flightpath of airliners landing at Heathrow, flying over
Britain’s nuclear submarine base at Faslane, and being used to deliver drugs over prison walls.
Earlier this year a drone crashed at the White House and there have been reports of Islamic militants using shop bought drones equipped with cameras as a low-cost form of surveillance.
Stephen Williams, capability manager at Selex, said: “Drones costing just a few hundred pounds are capable of carrying explosives which could be used for attacks. They can take other payloads – or even just a bag of flour – which if they dropped it in crowded places such as football stadiums could cause a mass panic.
“There have also been cases of mystery drones equipped with cameras flying over sensitive sites such as nuclear power stations.
“These products come out of the box and within minutes you are flying them without any training, they are available to anyone.”
Other companies have produced systems to defeat drones using electronic warfare – which attacks opponents by jamming or interfering with radio signals – but Selex says the £200,000 Falcon Shield is unique because it can also be focused only to affect the rogue drone.
“Widespread jamming of the signal could cause a drone to fall from the sky but this could be dangerous in a busy urban area,” said Mr Williams. “Drones with a return to base mode could also crash into buildings if they were being operated in a city.”
He added than sending out radio signals to overpower a drone could also block other vital transmissions such as emergency services’ communications or even mobile phones.
“Our system is much more subtle,” said Mr Williams. “We can focus our transmissions to cause the minimum interference to others.”
The range of the system – which is small enough to be vehicle mounted – is classified but thought to exceed human sight. However the cameras, radar and other sensors are understood to work at even greater ranges, giving more time for operators to react to potential threats before starting to combat them.
Major buyers for Falcon Shield, which is expected to go on sale early next year, are expected to include vital infrastructure installations such as power stations, organisers of large public events and the military. However, Selex believes wealthy individuals or celebrities could purchase it to give them privacy on their homes or yachts.
Selex, now owned by Finmeccanica, first began work on electronic warfare combating Zeppelin airships in the first world war, and has over 1,000 staff at its Luton headquarters
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