DroneGun a countermeasure to drone terror attacks

By Patrick C. Miller | January 03, 2018

The DroneGun Mark II is safe for people, but it isn’t safe for drones being operated illegally or as weapons of terror.

The DroneGun, which looks like a weapon from a sci-fi movie, is made by DroneShield, a company founded four years ago in the U.S. that now has offices in Virginia and Australia. With terrorist organizations making greater use of drones as weapons, Oleg Vornik, CEO of DroneShield, said government security agencies and militaries around the world see DroneGun as an effective countermeasure to the threat.

“The use of drones by terrorist organizations is a quickly developing threat,” he said. “We started seeing reports about this a couple years ago and it has quickly grown in sophistication. ISIS has proven themselves to be very resourceful and an inventive kind of enemy.”

Vornik noted that DroneShield receives reports of drones being used as weapons from media outlets and military sources.

“I can assure you that what you see in the media in terms of casualties and fatalities in Iraqi and allied militaries and civilians from drone attacks is just a fraction of what was actually inflicted from ISIS,” he said. “We’ve been receiving all these reports and it’s truly incredible how much the threat has grown.”

The DroneGun can either force a drone to return to is operator or safely land. It does this by jamming the GPS signal that tells the drone where it is or by jamming the radio signal between the operator and the drone. When the radio signal is lost, the drone automatically returns to the operator. When both the GPS and radio signals are lost, the drone automatically goes into safe landing mode.

As Vornik explains, this is known as a ‘soft kill’ because the drone is simply rendered inoperable. He said it’s the preferred method of dealing with weaponized drones because shooting them down is not only difficult, but can also lead to collateral damage if the drone crashes or explodes.

Although Vornik said the DroneGun was designed to be safe, it had to be certified as safe for human exposure to be in compliance with the procurement processes of potential government end users. The company recently received global certification from EMC Technologies, which specializes in laboratory testing and measurement under the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).

“With that certification in hand, we can now complete a number of procurement process with various militaries,” Vornik said.

In the U.S., because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits interference with any aircraft and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlaws the jamming of radio signals, only the military and federal law enforcement agencies can use the DroneGun as a countermeasure.

However, DroneShield makes a passive drone detection system called the DroneSentinel which can detect the presence of a drone more than a mile away. Vornik said this system can be used by anyone interested in protecting themselves, an event or a facility from drone intrusions.

About two months ago, DroneShield released a third drone security system called the DroneSentry. It uses five different sensor technologies to detect and track drones. It’s also equipped with jammers to bring down drones. With multiple jammers, Vornick said it’s capable of dealing with drone swarms. But like the DroneGun, it can be used only by federal military and security agencies.

Vornik believes the drone threat from terrorist groups is increasing and that it’s a matter of time before the technology is used for attacks in other parts of the world besides the Middle East. It could be a drone loaded with explosives flying into a high-value target or a drone used to spray biological agents.

“We think this is something people need to look out for,” he said. “We’ve certainly been getting a lot of interest from various agencies in the U.S. and Europe and elsewhere who are concerned about this kind of threat.”