CerbAir will be present at the 4th annual Sofins expo from 02-04 April 2019, held at Camp de Souge military base near Bordeaux, France. We’ll be conducting demonstrations of our anti-drone solution (more details below) and a conference on UAS terrorism.
We look forward to seeing you at our stand D54. Click here to get visitor access. Be sure to register before the cut-off date: 26 March 2019!
What Is Sofins?
Sofins began as the culmination of years of effort by members of the Cercle de l’Arbalète to improve the ties between the French technology and defense sectors. Observers on both sides are increasingly alarmed by the growing role of new technology in emerging security threats.
Cheap and commercially available hobby drones appeared in the Middle East around 2014 as part of the Islamic State’s asymmetric push to dominate the region. The tactic was soon picked up by other non-state actors from Latin America to Eastern Europe and even by some cash-poor professional militaries.
Meanwhile, the falling prices of nano-drones and software allowing multiple UAVs to be controlled by a single operator means the threat of weaponized drone swarms capable of overwhelming traditional defenses is now looming over the military world. Add to this advances in cyber-warfare, 3D printer-based arms production and other menaces and the need to bring the tech and defense sectors together becomes obvious.
Sofins is a forum that allows new ideas and relationships to flourish, sparking innovation. As Sofins’ website makes clear, the mission promoted by its organizers is to:
“Raise the profile of special operations by celebrating and nurturing the innovative spirit of micro-enterprises, SMEs and large industrial groups working in this area.”
At Sofins technology developers have a chance to promote and educate visitors on the newest innovations while defense sector players can test those innovations out, attend demonstrations and conferences and expand their network in the tech sector. The security “challenges of tomorrow” thus become more manageable. As a provider of innovative and reliable CUAS solutions, CerbAir is eager to share its technology and security expertise in the effort to produce a safer world for all.
In the vein of sharing our expertise and spreading knowledge about advances in anti-drone technology, CerbAir has scheduled two live demonstrations of our CUAS solution. Come discover for yourself on the following dates:
Tuesday, 02 April 2019 at 10AM
Thursday, 04 April 2019 at 10AM
We’re also excited to announce an informative talk by our Director of Business Development and Security Export Thomas Guedet on the topic of Civilian UAS-based Terrorism: An Asymmetrical War – a concise, but detailed look at the rise of the use of civilian drones in terrorism and war:
Civilian UAS-based Terrorism: An Asymmetrical War Salle de Conférence du Sofins Wednesday 03 April 11AM
Perhaps you’ve been looking for innovative answers to your security challenges, you like to keep abreast of the latest advances in defense technology or you’re trying to expand your network. Sofins, the crossroads of technology and defense may be just what you’re looking for.
CerbAir is proud to partner with Securify, a Scandinavia-based security distributor who specializes in high-end solutions for wide-area intrusion detection and deterrence primarily destined for critical infrastructure such as energy distribution, airports, ports (although scalable to private companies and households). The core of Security’s solution is based on compact surveillance SpotterRF radar and our state-of-the-art Radiofrequency drone detection adds another layer of security to an already high-quality offer.
Securify founder Kenneth Nyström recently to talk about his experiences, the origin of Securify and the challenges he encounters in his field.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company, its history, mission, and services?
Kenneth: Securify is founded on the insight that perimeter protection is far more than just cameras and fences. In previous lives, we have worked with video surveillance and analytics and in several situations experienced first hand this technology being both costly and insufficient.
We decided to change the way the market thinks about perimeter security. When many would consider us too small and maybe insignificant, we consider our size to be part of our strengths. Focused, flexible and deeply passionate about our mission, to make a change.
Securify acts as a distributor, but far from the typical archetype, we are specialized and provide field services to support our reseller partners.
Personal: What path brought you into your current field?
Kenneth: During my time at Infralogic I introduced Aimetis to the Swedish market in 2006. I was thrilled by the possibilities of VCA but realized over time that outdoor environments were a challenge and that the end users always wanted “more”, to express my experiences in a positive way.
In late 2012 I began to map the market, hunting for something that could work where analytics, fence sensors, seismic and microwave barriers and laser had all failed. I discovered SpotterRF and instantly understood that I had found the answer. Then and there, I decided that perimeter security would be my future focus.
But the other owners at Infralogic didn’t share my vision so I decided to leave. A few months later I founded Securify.
What major security challenges do you foresee in your area of expertise in the next 5 years?
Kenneth: Mastering technology, new to the security industry, such as radar and passive RF detection will require manufacturers, distributors, and system integrators to collaborate. Due to the rapid development of drones, we face an unprecedented challenge, where military-grade equipment and multi-layer solutions, are required to protect people and society. The logical consequence is that this will lead to a new niche of specialized companies with both relevant tools and experience.
Can you tell us more about increases in illegal UAS (drone) activity in your country/region?
Kenneth: Drones represent a threat in Sweden and Scandinavia. Public airports have on multiple occasions been forced to shut down. Prisons, military facilities, and exercises have all reported drone intrusions. Private companies have experienced situations with drones sightings, potential espionage.
The Swedish government took action and in April 2019 the new Protective Act will take effect. This means that facilities protected by this Act will be able to deter drones with jamming technology.
How do CerbAir’s anti-drone solutions complement your security offer?
Kenneth: Passive RF-detection is the primary layer in our C-UAS dual layer approach. By combining RF with Radar we are able to provide highly capable solutions. Securify has made a long term commitment to CerbAir by investing in a mobile Direction Finding system.
UK Defence Minister Gavin Williamson’s announcement that British armed forces are in the midst of developing drone “squadrons” created a buzz in both the defense and UAS worlds. Appearing at an engagement at the Royal United Services Institute, Mr. Williamson spoke of swarms of tiny UAS steered by a single pilot and designed to saturate and eventually completely overwhelm enemy air defenses.
The move comes as the Minister maneuvers to close budget and manpower shortages by employing AI and a combination of commercial and military technology.
The US Air Force Joins the Game
far from alone in its interest as cheaper drone models are seducing military strategists
worldwide. In 2018, the Pentagon included UAS among the emerging technologies
it was looking to incorporate into its new “Flight Path” strategy for the US
Air Force. It came to that conclusion after Red Team exercises revealed that
traditional staples of US air power like Predator and Global Hawk military
drones were becoming a thing of the past.
“What we see is that the traditional big wing ISR has been routinely losing effectiveness over time,” noted Kenneth Bray, the Air Force’s deputy chief for ISR, at a conference held in August 2018, adding that the Pentagon was not going to wait to move forward with new innovations, even if there will still a few kinks to work out.
Drones, specifically devices made of lower cost, sometimes mass-produced materials, provide an interesting alternative to the much more expensive Predators of old. And they bring with them the additional benefit of speed, with their artificial intelligence powered sensors and processors allowing airmen more leeway to think critically rather than merely process data according to another official.
From a Trickle to a Torrent
those in know are aware that expensive materials and sophisticated AI aren’t obligatory
to turn a drone into a military asset.
The separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine has been marked by a steady stream of commercial and locally produced drones employed by both sides in a surprisingly wide variety of roles: providing surveillance footage of on the emplacement of artillery, tanks, and rocket systems, smuggling of provisions and even “kamikaze” drones designed to be sacrificed in an attack on enemy forces.
An emphasis on surveillance and attack was similarly observed in fights with the Islamic State during the Syrian Civil War as well as the effort to push the jihadist fighters out of Mosul, Iraq. Coalition troops regularly reported being harassed by quadcopters and dozens of Iraqi troops were killed or wounded by 40-millimeter grenades and light explosives dropped from UAS buzzing just out of reach, described by one serviceman as “killer bees.”
In most cases the devices were either off-the-shelf hobby drones modified to carry a single explosive or locally-produced UAS whipped up out of mix of homemade and commercially available parts, often sourced through third parties from unsuspecting wholesalers in Europe and Asia.
Beyond the Middle East, Islamic State affiliates in the Philippines, Libya and Yemen have reportedly used drones for surveillance as well Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
For Dan Gettinger, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, nothing can stop the coming flood of UAS expected to darken the skies of battlefields all over the globe: “The U.S. military and any military has to prepare for an operating environment in which enemy drones are not just occasional, but omnipresent,” adding, “Whether it’s a small, tactical UAS, midsize or strategic, drones of any size will be commonplace on the battlefield of the future.”
The Chinese and Iranian Factors
The easy availability
of drone technology itself might be partly to blame for their increasing
presence in war. The devices can be mass-produced cheaply, parts are simple to procure
and online vendors can ship them to virtually any part of the world.
Even for UAS specifically conceived for combat, prices are falling as producers like China are challenging American dominance in the field in more ways than one. A report on drone proliferation in the Middle East released by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies noted that in addition to the relatively low cost of Chinese made drones, China’s “no questions asked” sales methods did much to contribute to the jump in drone numbers in Middle Eastern nations:
“Purchasing armed drones from China, a country which does not abide by the MTCR, enables them to gain access to this technology without being barred by international norms. Although Chinese operators often conduct initial sorties, including combat ones, they do not appear to insist on particular procedures but instead enable and teach new users to employ their armed UAVs as they wish.”
The report also names Iran as an emerging manufacturer of low cost (and no strings attached) UAV technology, noting that Iran does discriminate between state and non-state actors such as insurgent groups. Though evidence and details are still “feeble”, it is suspected that Iran “might have supplied armed drones to Hamas, Hizbullah and the Houthis as well as the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.”
As noted in a previous blog post, some non-state groups have become particularly adept at adapting Iranian or Chinese low-grade military drone technology with the addition of commercial parts or technology to produce a sort of “Frankendrone” that while clunky, gets the job done.
The Houthi rebels of Yemen are an excellent example of this. In January 2019 they sent an armed Iranian-made Qasef-1 fitted with civilian GPS to attack a Government military parade, killing several including a high-ranking intelligence official.
A Problem of Speed
Even though militaries appear to be enthusiastic about the potential of UAS and well aware of the risks stemming from its proliferation – actual rollout of reliably functional battle drones seems to be proceeding at a slower pace than many would prefer.
In the case of the UK, many were skeptical of Williamson’s promise that the UK could develop drone swarm squadrons “ready to be deployed by the end of this year (2019)” with one expert stating that the idea of swarm drones was “very much at the concept stage, and it’s very unlikely he can meet the deadline of the end of the year.”
the moment the most dynamic players in the new drone arms race appear to be non-state
actors, who faced with the overwhelming fire power and budgets of traditional
state militaries are making due with what they can find and in an often very
effective and potentially deadly way. It seems necessity really is the mother
Airspace security is an extremely complex topic where a great number of factors need to be taken into consideration to provide the best possible solution for a given site. Given the depth of the topic and the enormous amount of competing anti-drone systems (also known as “CUAS” or “CUAV”) on the market, how can you choose a system that provides optimal airspace security at the best cost/efficiency ratio and over the longest possible period?
Qualities to Look For
Strangely enough, the same qualities that make a good friend are the same ones you should be looking for in a provider:
Are they someone you can trust? Ask for references. Any serious counter UAV (“counter drone”) provider will be willing to provide client and partner references and most likely specific use cases to prove they know what they’re talking about. Also, be careful about maximum coverage ranges. Ask the provider if the drone detection ranges they’re giving you are under average or ideal conditions. The difference may be surprising.
Are they committed? Does the provider make the sale and that’s the end of the relationship? Just like a “friend” who disappears once they’ve got what they wanted, a provider who cuts all contact post-sale is someone to watch out for. Look for an anti drone security company that watches over you. Post-sale service, software updates, and troubleshooting are essential.
Are they knowledgeable? We’ve all seen that annoying guy who claims to know it all but can’t back it up. Test a potential provider’s knowledge and background. Does their representative and/or team have experience in the defense and security fields? What about their materials – do they straddle the fine line between in-depth and easy-to-understand, or do they go too far one way or the other? Can they explain how their technology works in a simple and thorough way?
Are they passionate? Trustworthiness, commitment, and knowledge are all extremely important qualities, but without a passionate outlook, a friendship risks falling flat. Is the provider you’re considering constantly learning and updating their knowledge on the CUAS field and all its innovations? Are they already doing their own research and development, or planning too soon, or do they purchase all their technology from third parties? A motivated airspace security provider will always be on the lookout for the newest threats and the latest solutions.
Anti-Drone Solutions Tailored to Your Needs
So, you’ve found an airspace security provider that seems to have all the qualities you’re looking for. Now it’s time to take a closer look at their equipment. While it’s extremely important to have a passionate and knowledgeable security team, without the right tools your airspace is still at high risk. Ask yourself the following questions when examining counter UAS technology:
Think Long Term
Can you scale it to your site needs? Is the technology offered modular? That is – can you easily add or subtract elements without having to replace the entire system?
Is it upgradable? Is the CUAS solution on offer a good investment over the long-term? Can the software and hardware be easily and regularly updated to keep up with new threats?
How durable is it? Is it going to last? And is it resistant to rain, snow, and extreme temperatures? This is especially important if the technology will be permanently installed outdoors.
Ease of Use
Is the technology intuitive and simple to use with minimal training? Does it feature a logical and easy interface?
Can the anti-drone solution be integrated into your existing security system? How about on-site installation and/or set-up? Drones are quick, your airspace security solution needs to be up and running fast.
What is the solution’s base technology? Radar, Radiofrequency, Optic (Camera) or Sonic? How well do any of those particular technologies match the risk profile, topography and ambient pollution of your site? What are their advantages and weaknesses? Don’t hesitate to ask a potential provider to answer these questions.
Is the anti-drone solution reactive? How quickly can it detect a drone within its operating range? And what are its detection and false alarm rates – again, under average rather than ideal circumstances?
Does the CUAS technology give you the ability to detect the location of both the drone and pilot? Given restrictions on kinetic and non-kinetic drone neutralization in many jurisdictions, locating and arresting the UAV pilot is often the best way to quickly and permanently stop a drone threat.
Can the provider’s solution handle a multiple drone intrusion? Drone swarms are the next big security challenge in airspace security. Can the provider’s technology deal with multiple UAS without becoming saturated?
Is the technology low interference or passive? Local authorities can be extremely sensitive about “frequency pollution”. Is the provider’s technology low interference or even passive (only emitting a signal when in use)?
What about operating costs? How much does it cost to run the technology? Does it consume large amounts of electricity? Does it require a dedicated staff member to operate?
Does the CUAS solution hit the high quality/fair price sweet spot? While airspace security is an investment, it need not be excessively expensive. Does the provider offer a fair cost to quality ratio?
Many factors go into choosing the right airspace security provider. But with a little research and by asking the right questions, you’re sure to find the best provider and technologies to protect your sensitive site or event from rogue drone intrusions.
In the next installment, we’ll take a closer look at different anti-drone technologies.
After a rather unfortunate end to 2018, Gatwick Airport administrators have learned that a little prevention goes a long way. Europe’s 8th busiest airport is busy installing anti-drone solutions to keep the UAVs away and airport authorities around the globe are following their example and investigating ways of protecting their own runways. Continue reading “After Gatwick Could Sports Venues Be the Next Great Drone Debacle?”
On January 10th a clutch of high-ranking officers in Yemen’s Hadi-led government army gathered at Al Anand military base. Seated on a raised dais, they surveyed the soldiers arranged in orderly rows before them while cordial speeches praising the bravery and fighting prowess of the armed forces blasted from tinny loudspeakers.
Shield Africa (22 – 24 Jan 2019) is Africa’s leading security exposition.
Sponsored by the Ivory Coast Ministries of State and Defense and partnered with French defense giants GICAT and GICAN, Shield Africa offers responses to security challenges confronting the continent in 2019 including:
Securing urban areas,
Reestablishing peace in conflict zones,
Battling against transborder terrorism
Promoting economic activity
2019’s theme will be “Protection and Control of Borders” and CerbAir, with its airspace security expertise, will be on hand to share its anti-drone solutions.
Given the growing incidents of cross-border smuggling and terrorism involving UAVs, it’s more important than ever for countries to secure their national borders against drone intrusions.
We look forward to meeting you at the Ecole Nationale de Police in Abidjan, Ivory Coast at Stand A35 from Tuesday 22, January 2019 to Thursday 24 January 2019.
From 9 pm to 3 am on Wednesday evening Gatwick Airport, Europe’s 8th busiest was shut down due to the presence of two rogue drones flying over its runway.
The drones reappeared on Thursday morning, affecting the flight plans of over 120.000 passengers according to Gatwick’s chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe and forcing flights to divert to airports as far away as Paris and Amsterdam.
Flights finally resumed on Friday morning under heavy police and military guard.
Theories that the drone intrusion was a deliberate act to disrupt air traffic at a particularly stressful time – the end of year travel season – have already begun making their rounds, with British authorities launching an official investigation.
But, whatever the motives of the pilots may have been, the incident illustrated just how easy it is to bring a major air hub to its knees with a cheap, easy to purchase hobby drone.
Extremely Dangerous to Aircraft
But how can such a small device cause such big trouble?
Hobby drones are tiny but pose an enormous collision risk to aircraft which could catastrophically weaken the structural integrity of the impacted aircraft. And unlike bird strikes, drones are not composed of organic material, but of plastic, metal and potentially explosive lithium batteries – significantly raising the risks.
Thus the message of Gatwick’s CEO Stewart Wingate to stranded passengers:
“We hope passengers appreciate that we must and will always prioritise their safety over everything else…until we are confident that the issue has been resolved it would clearly not be in the interests of passengers to do so [restart operations] as we could be jeopardising their safety.”
Indeed, allowing flights to continue with the presence of rogue drones in flight paths is a risk no sensible airport authority is willing to take.
Adding to the pain of airport administrators – shutdowns are incredibly expensive – a similar incident in Dubai in 2017 ended up costing as much as $1 million US per minute.
On Thursday about 20 police units were busy searching the perimeter of the airfield of the drone pilots, which to date have still not been located. All that mobilization spells big bills for taxpayers who are obliged to fund attempts – often futile – to track down drown pilots after the fact.
Even mid-priced drones, such as Parrot’s ANAFI, have maximum ranges of up to 4km or 2.5 miles – allowing a pilot to wreak havoc from a safe distance and make his getaway long before police can determine his location by sight alone.
Why not just shoot the drone out of the sky?
“Why not just break out the rifles, blow the drone out of the sky and be done with it?” you may ask. In Gatwick’s case, police were reluctant to do so out of fear that stray bullets could possibly damage aircraft or injure passengers and crew.
Drones are also incredibly fast (some going up to 225kph or 140mph) and difficult to target, even for the best sharpshooters.
Pilot Localization is Key
Lucas Le Bell, founder of CerbAir anti-drone solutions knows how dangerous a drone in a no-fly zone can be. CerbAir has extensive experience in anti-drone protection over international airports such as Paris’ Charles de Gaulle – Roissy International Airport.
“This is proof that stricter legislation is not enough to eliminate the threat hobby drones pose to aviation, even at major airports like Gatwick. If you want to stop this sort of incident, you need to find the people responsible and bring them to justice to discourage others from doing the same thing, which is why it’s so important to be able to locate the pilot.”
Radio-frequency based anti-drone detection systems like CerbAir’s are able to locate not only the drone but its remote control from the moment the remote is activated. This allows airport authorities to find and apprehend rogue drone pilots and neutralize the threat straight away without using ammunition or jamming which can be dangerous in a crowded urban environment.
Major airports around the world such take the Gatwick debacle as a warning.
Deployment of anti-drone detection, pilot localization, and drone neutralization should no longer be considered optional.
Indeed, Stewart Wingate recognized the need for action in his official statement, writing:
“These events obviously highlight a wider strategic challenge for aviation in this country which we need to address together with speed – the aviation industry, Government and all the other relevant authorities.”
In a world where one tiny drone is all it takes to ground dozens of jumbo jets, finding and making an example of irresponsible pilots is the only way forward.
After some hesitation, India moved to legalize the operation of civilian drones over its territory.
The new laws (which you can read here) took effect on 01 December 2018 and are in line with the rapid modernization of the country whose booming economy has lifted millions into the middle class.
The law introduces a new classification system for drones with all civilian devices now falling into five categories, based on weight:
Nano Drones – up to 250g
Micro Drones – 250g – 2kg
Small Drones – 2kg – 25kg
Medium Drones – 25kg to 150kg
Large Drones – over 150kg
Small to Large drones are permitted at an altitude of up to 120m (400ft) and all categories are restricted to within line of sight and daytime activity.
Unique ID’s and Operator Permits
With the exception of nano drones flying under 15m (50ft), the owners of all other devices must apply for a Unique Identification Number (UIN) through an online platform called “Digital Sky” on which they also must file flight plans and obtain permission to fly. In this way, authorities hope to be able to keep track of civilian drones operating over the country.
Any pilot flying over 60m (200ft) will also be required to obtain an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP), a sort of “drone driver’s license” open to operators over the age of 18 who have completed basic ground/practical aviation theory training and successfully passed an exam.
While the UIA is valid for the lifetime of the device, the UAOP must be renewed periodically.
“No Permission, No Take-Off”
A unique feature of Digital Sky is the electronically enforced “no permission, no take-off” (NPNT) policy requiring all drones flying above 15m to install software which will prevent them from operating if they have not received approval for flight plans submitted to Digital Sky.
All new drones sold in India must be NPNT compliant and owners of existing devices are required to upload the NPNT software to operate legally.
GNSS and Two-Way Communication Required
A feature of the law that will be of interest to airspace security administrators is the requirement that all devices above the nano category must be equipped with GNSS for horizontal and vertical position fixing and two-way communication between the pilot and drone.
It appears this detail was introduced to prevent the proliferation of autonomous drone technology whose ability to operate independently of GNSS would make detection and, if necessary, jamming of rogue UAVs more difficult for law enforcement.
Some Zones Off-Limits
As in most other countries, unauthorized UAV flights are forbidden in sensitive areas including:
Within 25km of international borders
Government buildings and national monuments
National parks and wildlife sanctuaries
The law places responsibility on drone pilots to avoid disturbing the tranquility of their fellow citizens and to respect the privacy and safety of others.
But What About Non-Compliance?
Still, anti-drone protection will be doubtlessly be needed to counter rogue drone operators, including possible terrorist operatives, from using the technology for their purposes. The expense of obtaining licenses and the reluctance to wait for approval from the government for every drone operation may additionally push some pilots to fly without registration or authorization – increasing the risk of incidents.
Fortunately, anti-drone solutions including pilot and drone localization and neutralization have advanced rapidly over the past few years.
No Clear Guidelines for Foreign Pilots
For now, the law does not appear to allow foreign drone pilots to operate on Indian territory and other legislation forbids carrying UAVs in hand luggage (required by most airlines) which would prevent the majority of tourists or other operators from importing their devices entirely.
Expanded Capabilities in the Near Future
The Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation has already assembled a task force for recommendations on Drone Policy 2.0 under the chairmanship of the Minister of State, according to their press release.
Expected developments include regulatory architecture for autonomous operation, deliveries by drone, and BVLOS (flights beyond the line of sight).
And if it’s all a bit too much to remember, here’s a helpful overview from Tech2: