An ominous round of testimony by top U.S. security officials could open up a new market for several drone-mitigation companies.
On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray raised fears of domestic terrorist acts via drone during testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
“I think we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones,” Wray said.
“We’ve seen that overseas already with growing frequency. I think the expectation is that it’s coming here imminently. I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and monitor,” he added.
National Counterterrorism Center director Nicholas Rasmussen fanned rogue-drone fears further with his testimony.
“Two years ago this was not a problem. A year ago it was an emerging problem. Now it’s a real problem. So we’re quickly trying to up our game. [A rogue drone] could be dropping small explosives the size of a grenade. It could be dispersal of toxins, potentially.”
Although many anti-drone solutions have not been approved for use on American soil, congressional interest could change things, reflecting recent actions across the globe.
The potential winners
Australian-based DroneShield will soon test its DroneGun MKII, a tactical drone signal-jamming rifle, before the Spanish military and national police. Company officials say deals may be pending in France and Great Britain.
In February, DroneShield announced the sale of DroneGun to an undisclosed Middle Eastern country the company says is “closely allied with the Western countries.” The firm also offers the DroneSentinel detection system that provides early warning and location of unauthorized drones flying near restricted areas. The company could see an uptick for such projects following the recent collision of a drone with a U.S. military helicopter.
“DroneSentinel can be optionally combined with a jammer (in the DroneSentry product) to neutralize the incoming drone threat, following the detection,” a company official said in a recent interview.
Last week, British start-up OpenWorks Engineering released SkyWall300, a souped-up version of its series 100 UAV-mitigation technology. The drone killer resembles a missile launcher and can deploy an intelligent projectile with on-board countermeasures just like its predecessor, Skywall100, but with automatic modes, increased range and enhanced autonomy.
Aerospace/defense giant Lockheed Martin has released a video showcasing its 30-kilowatt class ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) system, which downed five fixed-wing Outlaw drones in an effort to thwart “airborne targets in flight by causing loss of control and structural failure.”
Given its wide range of projects, British consortium Anti-UAV Defense System may benefit greatly from increased anti-drone interest in the U.S. and Europe. The company announced new upgrades to its hardware allowing the solution to “more effectively defeat swarm attacks by malicious unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including long-range winged drones.”
In the final analysis, where there’s government fear, there’s profit to be made in the drone-mitigation game. A research study predicts the market will grow to $1.85 billion by 2024. Even as the commercial drone industry flowers into a business behemoth, anti-drone solutions will likewise bloom to shoo errant drones away from wildfire zones, nuclear power plants, prisons and airports.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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