DailyPost 1738

The Jammu drone attack has finally brought the story home, as what this tool can do as a weapon. Though the damage was minimal, it should serve as a lighting to  the people mandated to provide security to the assets concerned and also our nation. That we have not been able to create a blueprint of Defence to deal with this deadly brat in the battlefield, does not augur well. The road to creating a sense of security in our airspace has to be based on solid tech capabilities proven over and over again* or it cannot be relied upon. The danger is not limited to only the defence establishments but to every single critical infrastructure in the country.

The little time the rogue drone provides to respond is itself a great challenge. Just getting sighted in an airport can send a chill down the spine. The closure of Gatwick airport towards the end of the 2018 brings out with clarity what damages drones can bring to civilian air traffic. The erratic drone sightings brought a second round of closure. The airport lost $1.4 million and $15 million was lost in compensation, welfare payment and lost revenue. The cost can be humongous, besides complete disruption of air traffic. The multifarious nature of scare and damages have to be tackled differently, the one size fits all cannot be a solution. It has never been in the technology age. Have we even initiated a Blueprint?

The analysis of satellite images of drone attack on Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility before and after the attack in Sept 2019 shows 19 individual strikes. Fourteen pertain to punctured storage tanks. Three of the drone attacks were enough to disable processing trains and two fortunately did not damage any equipment. The fire and debris could beat a conventional war. This has been the rogue drone scenario. We have been lucky enough not to land in such a situation so far. ”To invest more in counter drone research and technology and build capacity in the same domain,” is the need of the hour. Dedicating technical, human and financial resources can be a fair beginning with clear cut deliverables.

While at current juncture, no solutions are visible, the solutions have to be found out of  requirement based research in counter drone technology uses of radars, radio-frequency devices, electro-optical methods, acoustic mechanisms and combined sensors technology etc. Besides, research and our effort to find, use, upgrade and hopefully perfect anti-drone measures, we need to revisit our track record of enforcement of drones in the sky today. There are 4 to 6 lakhs drones in the country. While some guidelines have been enacted, have we gained any worthwhile control over them. The rogue is the person and the drone is  the handmaiden. Where have we reached in the NPNT (no permission not take-off ) scheme? Let’s make this happen with no drone flight unaccounted.


Sanjay Sahay

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