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Sansad TV: The Defenders- Drones In Defence Sector




Use of drones:

  • Military and Policing: Drones are largely used for military or policing purposes, but they also have other uses.
  • Agriculture: A start up called Terraview uses drones with advanced image processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality to increase the productivity of vineyards.
  • A drone can be used to measure the amount of grainthat’s piled up after harvest.
  • Mining Output:Tata Steel has used drones quite effectively to measure mining output.
  • Explosive detection and defusing: In many places, it is just safer to send a drone, such as while using explosives in deep mines or defusing suspected bombs.
  • Wildlife protection and survey: drones are used to survey wildlife and detect poaching in the jungles of Africa.

How drones became a tool of terror?

  • The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in February 2021 published a report titled, The Role of Drones in Future Terrorist Attacks.
  • Here, the AUSA said the Islamic State made the first successful use of drones for terrorism.
  • The threat was so serious that in 2019, European Union Security Commissioner Julian King warned that European cities could be targeted by terror groups using drones.
  • Sighting of drones near India-Pakistan border and the Line of Control (LoC) has been frequent. Some of them have carried weapons to the Indian side.
  • Another drone-dropped arms consignment was seized in Punjab’s Gurdaspur in June 2020. The same month, the Border Security Force (BSF) shot down a drone in the Hira Nagar sector of Jammu. The recoveries included the US-made M4 rifles.
  • In January 2021, the Jammu and Kashmir Police caught two persons as they were picking up drone-dropped arms consignment.

 Why preventing drone terror attack is difficult?

  • The surveillance technology including radar systems that India has deployed at the borders or lines of control is meant for tracking bigger objects, helicopters, planes and missiles.
  • Preventing drone attacks requires jamming of drone systems and shooting them down.
  • Laser-based Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) are being talked about as a defence system against drone attacks.
  • In India, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed two anti-drone DEW systems.

How do you prevent a drone attack?

  • It is very difficult to locate small drones and the ones operating them. One needs to deploy drone-detection technology and subsequent countermeasures to tackle this threat.
  • Drone detection can be RF-based or via conventional radars tuned to detect drones or via electro-optic payloads that use thermal imaging.
  • Once identified, you can launch a kinetic energy weapon against the drone or jam it or confuse it by jamming its GPS.
  • Israel’s Iron Dome and other missile systems act within seconds. Detection and action against drones will happen at a very fast pace but it will take some time to gain that kind of capability.

Security threats posed by drones:

  • National Security Issues:Drones have demonstrated the potentials for their threat to the security of a country. Drones are operated remotely and can strike where it wants it to strike. Raising serious security issues.
  • Terrorism:Drones have been used by various terrorist organisations like ISIS in Syria and Iraq to hit their targets.
  • Potential weapons of mass destruction: What makes combat drones in the hands of non-state actors most dangerous is the threat of them being used to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
  • Aviation safety: Drones flying too close to commercial aircraft has called for regulations.
  • Privacy:Drones have been used by the paparazzi to take the images of individuals breaching their privacy.
  • Cross border smuggling: Over the past two years, drones have been deployed regularly by Pakistan-based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs into Indian territory. Drones fly low and therefore cannot be detected by any radar system. 

Way forward: 

  • Security agencies should work on developing more modern anti-drone weapons like ‘sky fence’ and ‘drone gun’ to counter terror or similar sabotage bids by these aerial platforms.
  • The Tokyo police have been using ‘flying nets’ attached to legal drones to capture and neutralise rogue UAVs. the Taiwanese police have been testing RF jammer guns to bring down rogue drones.
  • The answer to the emerging threat of rogue drones, though serious, is not over-regulation but smart regulation, creating a balance between the evolving drone sector and the emerging security concerns.
  • This needs to be done with investing in cutting-edge technologies for countering drones and indigenous R&D, with the support of government grants besides private investments.
  • National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines’ is a step in the right direction outlining ‘procedural means’ of prevention, deterrence and denial and ‘active means’ of detection, interruption and destruction. This must be coupled with ‘Counter Rogue Drone Deployment Plan’ based on vulnerability analysis