In the wake of the drone attack on the Indian Air Force station in Jammu and the fast evolving technology driving these devices, it is important for India to arm itself with effective and up to date anti-drone capabilities to safeguard its interests

Low flying buzzing drones with little or no sound can be a nightmare for security forces as they are difficult to detect and can be tools to carry out destruction. This was most recently seen in the attack on the Indian Air Force Station in Jammu on June 27.

A drone's ability to fly low makes it difficult to be caught by radars. Besides, it produces very little sound while operating, which adds to the stealth that makes its detection a challenge. Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane has sounded a warning that drones will continue to be used by state and non-state actors. It is in this backdrop that India needs to ramp up its anti-drone capabilities and look for solutions from within and outside to combat the menace.

India saw a small trailer of drone warfare as two bombs were dropped at the high security air force station of Jammu on June 27.

Why Anti-Drone Tech Is Important

Drone attacks are not new and have been adopted in the past to not just hit military targets, but also civil infrastructure and attack high profile personalities. Trained eagles, to radio jamming technology and laser beams to bring down drones--the anti-drone warfare is still evolving as the challenges keeps changing with cheaper options of destruction.

Drone attacks are a cheap and easy option for which India needs to be better prepared. Experts feel since use of drones is rapidly growing, technological methods to combat them are also evolving. Group Captain RK Narang, who has extensively studied challenges of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), says there are many innovators in India but it remains a question why they haven't been indicted so far.

"This is the time we must use existing capabilities and take ownership and make one entity in-charge. If we prioritise, we can achieve deployment of new technologies in a short period," Narang said.

Anshuman Tripathi, a drone technology expert who is also a member of the National Security Advisory Board, says, "Drones are still evolving and solutions to handle them are incomplete. It's a matter of few years when the technology matures and you can standardise equipment as you go forward."


Israel's Drone Dome

Just like Israel's Iron Drome that can detect and neutralise missiles, the Drome Drone is an effective system to take on rouge unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Developed by the Israeli company Rafael, the system detects, jams and then shoots down the suspected drone. A 360-degree radar system allows precise detection followed by visual tracking by the inbuilt camera. The manufacturers describe it as an end-to-end solution for interception and destruction of hostile drones.

Through its jammers or the high-powered laser beams, the drones can be brought down.

One of the biggest challenges for any anti-drone system is to detect small or mini drones that are easily available commercially. The Drone Dome system claims to detect target as small as 0.002 m2, at a distance of 3.5 km, the Rafale website says. The company claims that the system ensures it does not cause collateral damage because it will not shoot the laser beam till it's 100 per cent locked onto the target.

The system has been operational in Israel since 2019.


The SMASH 2000 system is fitted on a rifle and can be used to bring down drones. The Israeli system recognises, tracks and engages targets in the air with precision. While the Indian Navy has already opted for the Israeli anti-drone Smash rifles, the Jammu attack is a reality check for other forces to bring in similar capabilities to guard against drone attacks.

The Israeli and US forces are among those who are using the system that can track and hunt down multiple targets. Developed by the Israeli company Sharpshooter, the SMASH system allows any soldier on ground to be equipped with anti-drone capabilities as the system can be easily mounted on rifles.

"Our proprietary target acquisition and tracking algorithms are integrated with sophisticated image-processing software into a rugged hardware solution, providing an easy to use and cost-effective solution," the Israeli company claims on its website.

Drone Hunter

Manufactured in the US, the Drone Hunter can intercept suspicious drones through its sophisticated radars.

"DroneHunter captures and tows away these dangerous or malicious drones with no collateral damage," says the website of Fortem Technologies.

The anti-drone system works in different modes depending on the scenario. In the Pursue Mode, it investigates suspicious drones through its on-board optical cameras. It has a warning mode, wherein with flashlights it gives out a warning alarm to the threatening drone. In the defence and attack modes, it fires a netgun before capturing and towing away the drones with a net shield that it engages with.

What US Forces Approved Last Year

The US military had drawn out a list of counter-drone technologies last year to meet the new challenges that UAVs pose. It was in January 2020 that the Department of Defence formed a joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aerial System body for identifying and developing the future strategy against drone threats.

The seven approved systems were divided into three categories: (1) Fixed and semi-fixed systems, (2) Dismounted and handheld systems; and (3) Mounted mobile systems.

CORIAN or the Counter Remote Controlled Model Aircraft Integrated Network System comes under the fixed and semi-fixed category that was selected for guarding defence facilities against drone threats. The US Navy has also opted for this system.

"CORIAN is a modular, scalable mission technology system which detects, identifies, tracks, and mitigates Unmanned Aerial System threats using precision-neutralisation techniques that ensure little to no collateral damage to the surrounding radio frequency (RF) spectrum and existing communications," said a press release from the company last year after it was selected for department of defence's mission.

NINJA (Negation of Improvised Non-State Joint Aerial-Threats) has been offered to the US Air Force under the same category.

Amongst the handheld counter-drone technologies in the list is the Dronebuster used by US forces.

"With the Dronebuster, the operator can quickly intercept the drone command link and command the drone to descend or go home. All the operators must do is aim the Dronebuster at the drone and pull the trigger," the manufacturer FlexForce claims.

The Smart Shooter that can be used for on conventional rifles is the other approved system under the handheld category for the US forces. In the mounted category is the Light Mounted Air Defence Integrated System. Termed as the killer drone this is used by the US Marines.

India's Options

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an anti-drone technology to detect, intercept and shoot down drones that is undergoing trials.

"It has both soft kill and hard kill capabilities. We are interacting with all security agencies and trying to improve the system. Industry has already taken transfer of technology. Bharat Electronic Limited is the ToT holder. Some more industries are coming forward," said DRDO Chairman G Sateesh Reddy speaking to journalists.

He said the system has been developed and trials are on. "More inputs being taken from armed forces, discussions on to modify it further."

The DRDO had deployed the system last year during events like Republic Day but many feel for a 24x7 monitoring in more hostile territory, the system needs to be further tested. The system is developed to jam drones up to 3 km and can bring down targets using a laser weapon at targets 1-2 km away. There are other options from the industry as well that need to be closely studied. Hyderabad-based Grene Robotics says it has developed India's own drone dome 'Indrajaal' that can guard against drone threats.