Current federal law does not allow state or local government to take action against drones, even when they’re being flown illegally. This includes local law enforcement and security officials who remain unequipped to respond to possible security threats posed by an illegal or rogue drone.
However, counter unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) have been in use by the Department of Defense and U.S. military overseas for years. Congress established classified policy for how the military can counter drone threats state-side in July 2017. The DOD’s most recent move in regards to C-UAS technology has been acquiring a multi-million-dollar contract with Blighter Surveillance Systems and Liteye Systems.
The unmanned systems industry is innovating at an incredible rate. Unfortunately, with all the great benefits that it provides, it also spawns the rogue operator who uses that tech in a malicious way.
—Kenneth Geyer, CEO, Liteye Systems
Department of Defense Signs Multi-Million-Dollar Counter-UAS Contract
Liteye Systems, a Colorado-based weapons and defense research and development company, has received an $18 million follow-on contract for delivery of numerous containerized anti-unmanned aircraft systems (C-AUDS) from the US Air Force. This is the 5th contract for C-UAS systems and services Liteye has received since the fall of 2016.
Blighter Surveillance Systems Ltd, a British designer and manufacturer of electronic-scanning (e-scan) radars and surveillance solutions, recently announced that it is supplying its counter-UAV radar technology to Liteye Systems as part of the multi-million-dollar contract with the United States Department of Defense.
We are delighted to be supplying our counter-UAV radar to Liteye for the US Defense Department. Yet again, we see our field-proven, mission deployed Blighter A400 series radars being selected to respond to the very real strategic threat posed by rogue unmanned systems.
—Mark Radford, CEO, Blighter Surveillance Systems
The Blighter A400 series radars can detect small and slow drones even in complex environments. Plus, their Blighter Ku-band micro Doppler A400 series radars can detect micro-drones and larger unmanned systems at speeds from full flight down to hover-drift. The solid-state all-weather radars also feature digital drone detection (D³) technology, and this enables them to extract the tiny reflections from modern plastic bodied drones even when they are flying close to the ground or near buildings.
Liteye’s C-AUDS system, featuring the Blighter A400 series radar, can detect, track, identify and defeat a Group 1 drone in approximately 10 seconds at a range of up to 3.5 km and has proved to be highly effective against malicious drones. AUDS has successfully defeated more than 1,000 real world drone sorties and been tested against more than 60 types of drone including Nano drones, fixed wing and quadcopters.
Federal Use of Counter-UAS Technology
C-UAS use beyond military use recently became more tenable—in October, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which includes a section titled “Preventing Emerging Threats.” This section expands the authority to use C-UAS beyond military personnel to other personnel approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Once implemented, the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (Div. H, Sec. 1601) will allow the Secretary and the Attorney General to authorize certain personnel to take action against an unmanned aircraft system if it poses a credible threat to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset. The requirements for a drone to be deemed a “credible threat” are to be defined by the Secretary or the Attorney General in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation.
The Act also specifies what type of action can be taken against malicious drones, ranging from issuing the operator a verbal warning to using reasonable force, if necessary, to destroy the drone. Additional regulations on privacy, how long the federal government can keep any electronic data it collects, and who it can share the data with are also included.
Congress has established a one year period from the time the Preventing Emerging Threats Act is implemented for the Secretary, Attorney General, and the Secretary of Transportation, to provide an assessment on C-UAS. This assessment is to include, among other things, recommendations for potential changes to existing authorities to allow State, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement to assist Federal law enforcement to counter malicious drone threats where appropriate.
As part of the FAA Reauthorization Act, Congress has also asked the FAA to review agencies currently authorized to operate C-UAS and to provide a report on the process of interagency coordination of C-UAS activity and standards for the operation of C-UAS. Studies of C-UAS technology utilized by the DOD could provide information, guidance, and models for technology more appropriately suited for use by state and local government if approved in the future. Share your thoughts on the future of C-UAS use by federal, state, and local government in this thread on our community forum.