The Rise of Drone Threats
Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) represent a relatively nascent field. The recognition of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has shown its versatility in numerous legitimate applications. However, it also introduces an array of potential threats, a realization that took time to fully manifest. The heightened awareness of these threats emerged notably in the aftermath of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, where UAS demonstrated their capacity to function not only as weapons but also as potent tools for espionage and reconnaissance. Having been in the industry for years, I’ve seen the versatility of UAS in numerous legitimate applications. But the potential threats, especially post the Ukraine-Russia conflict, became all too real. Drones began to be seen not just as tools but as potential weapons and espionage devices.
Initial Responses and Their Shortcomings
The initial response was to adapt conventional air defense systems into C-UAS solutions. Regrettably, this approach revealed several inadequacies, particularly when confronting small commercial UAS. It became increasingly apparent that the spectrum of risks associated with small UAS extended beyond the battlefield and encompassed diverse categories:
- Weaponized UAS
- Contraband smuggling across borders and into penal institutions
- Reconnaissance and espionage activities affecting military, industrial, and personal interests
- Hazards related to mid-air collisions, impacting both air traffic and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM)
Many of these threats transcended military contexts, presenting challenges in urban environments. Traditional C-UAS systems often proved cumbersome and, in many instances, wholly ineffective.
Technological Adaptations and Limitations
The technological adaptations from air defense systems primarily comprised radars, Radio Frequency (RF) scanners, and Electro-Optical (EO) systems, serving purposes of detection and tracking. Mitigation posed a more daunting challenge, as conventional missile and anti-aircraft artillery proved both ineffective and prohibitively costly, rendering them unsuitable for deployment in urban locales. Consequently, electronic warfare (EW) technologies, such as jamming and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) methods, garnered favor for conversion into C-UAS solutions. Kinetic technologies, including Kamikaze drones, net-based countermeasures, and other creative concepts, also entered the landscape.
In the realm of detection and tracking, radars exhibited the ability to detect non-transmitting (dark) drones, albeit at a steep cost and a propensity for generating false alarms. Unfortunately, radars proved ill-suited for urban deployment and faced considerable difficulty in detecting small, low-flying drones. RF scanners, while more cost-effective, presented issues of data accuracy and susceptibility to false alarms, particularly in urban settings. EO systems proved largely ineffectual in detecting drones in flight unless supported by location data from alternate sensors.
The Advent of Multi-Sensor Systems
Given the limitations inherent to each of these technologies, the advent of multi-sensor or multi-layer systems, integrating various detection methodologies under a unified Command and Control (C2) framework, emerged as the preferred solution. Such a multi-sensor detection and tracking system might encompass radar, RF scanner, and EO systems, effectively harmonizing their capabilities.
Nonetheless, the combination of these technologies entailed elevated costs and operational complexities. Moreover, within urban environments, the effectiveness of such multi-sensor systems remained limited, beset by issues of excessive radiation and unacceptable false alarm rates. The industry began leaning towards multi-sensor systems, integrating various detection methodologies. At Sentrycs, we closely observed these developments, recognizing the strengths but also noting the challenges, especially in terms of cost, false alarms, and difficulty in distinguishing between authorized and unauthorized drones.
Sentrycs – A Game-Changing Solution
These challenges necessitated a fundamentally distinct approach to C-UAS solutions: one that could eliminate false alarms, operate effectively within urban areas, and exhibit user-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, and minimal operational complexity. A solution that also refrained from causing interference and ensured passive detection and tracking.
The C-UAS solution crafted by Sentrycs was expressly designed to counter the threat posed by drones. Rooted in the analysis of communications protocols between drones and their controllers, Sentrycs’ solution maintains a continuous feed of essential information, including GPS coordinates for both the drone and its controller, precise altitude data, and unique identification details. Importantly, the system’s functionality remains independent of DRI (Detect and Ranging Identification) or Aeroscope signals, ensuring seamless operation even beyond the DRI range or in scenarios where signals are intentionally suppressed.
Sentrycs’ solution boasts a perfect track record with zero false alarms, an impressive detection and tracking range extending up to 8 kilometers or more, and minimal training requirements for operators. Crucially, it excels in urban environments and represents a cost-effective alternative. Furthermore, the system operates without causing any interference, and its detection and tracking capabilities are entirely passive.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Throughout the evolution of the C-UAS landscape, we’ve seen the challenges posed by drone threats and the limitations of conventional multi-sensor systems. Sentrycs emerged as a response to these challenges, offering a unique approach rooted in the analysis of communication protocols. While our solution has its limitations, such as not addressing dark drones and relying on a library-based approach, it supports the largest library on the market, keeps adding new drone models very frequently, and consistently proves to be both effective and cost-efficient in a variety of scenarios.
For organizations grappling with a wide range of drone threats, the integration of Sentrycs into their existing multi-sensor systems can offer a substantial boost in performance. This enhancement comes without a significant rise in costs, making it a valuable addition to their defense arsenal. While our system has its limitations, the feedback from our clients and partners has been overwhelmingly positive and it stands out as the most effective and the safest solution on the market to date. It also reduces the number of solutions needed. Therefore, I firmly believe that for many organizations, Sentrycs represents a sufficient first and last line of defense. For others, seeking 100% protection, combining multi-sensor systems with Sentrycs can significantly enhance effectiveness. It’s not just about competition; it’s about collaboration and synergy.