Hobbyist Drones: Why the Military Has an Eye Toward the Sky

By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – How dangerous are hobbyist drones? While some might not think the US military, including its Special Operations divisions, consider them much of a threat, the truth is otherwise. Drone are already banned from flying over airports and military bases, according to Newsweek, and in August 2017 the Pentagon gave 130 military bases across the country permission to shoot down private and commercial drones. Why are they so concerned?

As Newsweek reports, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates there could be as many as 21 million drones operating in American skies by 2021. Two years ago, the growing drone threat was discussed at a meeting of officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security and the FAA, while summer 2017 witnessed the use of drones by ISIS to attack US Special Operations soldiers and disrupt airstrikes near the Syrian city of Raqqa, says Newsweek.

“There is justifiable concern on the part of the military over the potential use of drones for surveillance and delivery of explosives,” says Jonathan Hunter, CEO of Department 13. “However, the aim of shooting down a drone presents risks when there is the potential for its payload to cause damage. Counter-drone technology is being developed as a way to mitigate this potential hazard.”

Department 13’s technology, called MESMER™, is a revolutionary commercial counter-drone platform, using sophisticated automated detection and mitigation strategies to stop, redirect, land or take total control of a target drone or radio-controlled device. This is done with protocol manipulation, which takes advantage of weaknesses found in all digital radio protocols. MESMER is also flexible, operating as a stand-alone system, or working in tandem with existing hardware solutions. MESMER is ideal for both commercial and defense/security organizations to deal with the emerging threat of ubiquitous autonomous systems. The company’s counter-drone solution offers the best of Department 13’s innovative technologies and deep experience.

Unlike other systems that use radio jamming and standard electronic mitigation techniques, MESMER uses signal features and metadata to select and apply strategies in order to curtail drone threats, regardless of how drone vendors may try and prevent this from happening. This protocol manipulation is low-power so it offers an advantage by not affecting non-targeted communication signals. This also allows MESMER to operate below one watt and within U.S. regulatory (FCC) constraints.

The MESMER platform addresses diverse threat scenarios and drone types. It allows the possibility of “non-kinetic mitigations” (i.e. drones are not shot down) that pose no public hazards. Its open software architecture integrates with other security applications. Furthermore, the platform is operational in multi-terrain (urban, remote and rugged) environments.

“Alternative strategies to mitigating drone threats are constantly improving,” Hunter adds.

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