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India works on counter-drone strategy to avoid Jammu-like attacks; DRDO says it's tech can fend off threats

Rogue drones have been spotted for the fourth consecutive day in Jammu, pushing defence forces to quickly work on a counter-drone strategy to avert attacks like the one witnessed on June 27

June 30, 2021 / 09:17 AM IST
A general view of a camera-mounted drone (Image: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

A general view of a camera-mounted drone (Image: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

India is working on a comprehensive counter-drone strategy to avert attacks like the one that happened at the Jammu airbase on June 27.

Measures and strategies to counter “weaponised drones used for terror purposes against strategic and commercial assets” were discussed in a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 29, NDTV reported. The meeting was also attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, among others.

Our tech can fend off threats, says DRDO chief

G Satheesh Reddy, the chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), suggested on June 29 that counter-drone technology developed by his organisation could provide India’s armed forces with the capability to quickly detect and destroy small drones posing a security threat.

Reddy told the Hindustan Times that DRDO’s anti-drone system can provide both “soft kill” and “hard kill” options to the military to tackle fast-emerging aerial threat. ‘Soft kill’ refers to mere jamming of hostile drones and ‘hard kill’ involves a laser-based destruction method.

The solution developed by the DRDO reportedly comprises a radar system that offers 360-degree coverage with detection of micro drones when they are 4 kilometres away. Electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors can detect drones up to 2 km away. A radio frequency (RF) detector can detect RF communications up to 3 km away.

DRDO’s RF/Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) jammer detects the frequency being used by the controller and jam the signals. The ‘hard kill’ system can also neutralise small drones at distances between 150 m and 1 km, the news report cited an unnamed official as saying.

Read - The human cost of drone warfare: A look at some of the world’s biggest drone attacks

The military's research and development agency has reportedly demonstrated these counter-drone technologies to various security agencies in the past. The system was also deployed for VVIP protection during Republic Day 2020, during the bilateral visit of then United States president Donald Trump, Independence Day 2020 and this year’s Republic Day parade.

The technology has been transferred to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for the production of the anti-drone system, the Hindustan Times report added.

The NDTV report suggested that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will act as the nodal authority for such technology. The air force is also expected to coordinate efforts on countering weaponised drones in the future.

Read | First-mover advantage is immense now after J&K drone attack: Group Captain Kishore Kumar Khera

India currently doesn’t have a universal policy to deal with rogue drones. The Civil Aviation and Home ministries will be reviewing the country’s existing regulations related to unmanned aircraft systems.

The Centre, on June 29, handed over the probe into the Jammu airport drone attack to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). On June 27, two bombs were dropped at the IAF airbase, injuring two personnel. The first explosion happened at around 1.40 am followed by another six minutes later.

Officials said that the first blast had ripped through the roof of a single-story building at the high-security technical area of the airport. The second blast happened in an open area.

Security personnel spotted drones at three locations in Jammu, including near defence installations, for the fourth consecutive day on June 30. The latest incident took place before dawn, India Today reported.

The dual-use airport belongs to the IAF but is also used for commercial flight operations. It is located on the outskirts of Jammu city.

Earlier news reports suggested that investigative agencies are probing Pakistan’s possible involvement in the incidents.

Read: First-ever drone attack in India marks dangerous new turning point in Kashmir terror

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first published: Jun 30, 2021 09:17 am