Counter-drone technology to be deployed to southern border against Mexican cartels
Drone use has been expanding exponentially, thanks to their extensive usefulness. However, they can also threaten public safety, in ways ranging from hobbyist drones wandering into commercial flight paths to drones used by Middle Eastern terrorist groups for reconnaissance or in bombing attacks. These growing threats have boosted development of a counter-drone industry.
Some Counter-Drone Systems are used in the detection of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and some are capable of intercepting threatening UAS. As set out in Counter Drone Systems by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, these are the platform types and methods of detection and interception currently available:
|Radar||Detects the “radar signature” created by bouncing radio-frequency signals off the UAS.|
|Radio Frequency||Identifies remotely-controlled drones by scanning for the radio frequencies on which they are known to operate.|
|Electro-Optical||Detects drones by identifying their visual “signature”, i.e. the familiar pattern created on monitors viewed by system operators.|
|Infrared||Detects drones by identifying their heat signature.|
|Acoustic||Detects drones by recognizing the unique sounds produced by their engines.|
|Combined Sensors||These systems integrate a variety of different sensor types to provide more robust detection capabilities.|
|Radio Jamming||Disrupts the radio frequency link between the drone and its operator, which causes the drone to either descend to the ground or initiate a “return to home” maneuver.|
|GNSS Jamming||Disrupts the drone’s satellite link, usually GPS or GLONASS, which is used for navigation. This causes the drones to either hover in place, land, or return to home.|
|Spoofing||This is where one takes control of the target drone by hijacking its communications link.|
|Laser||Destroys vital segments of the target’s airframe using directed energy, causing it to crash-land.|
|Physical Nets||These systems entangle the target drone and/or its rotors.|
|Projectiles||Employs ammunition to destroy incoming unmanned aircraft systems. Affectionately called “The good old-fashioned way.”|
|Combined Interdiction Elements||Some Counter-UAS systems employ a combination of interdiction elements, most commonly Radio Frequency and GNSS jamming components working in tandem.|
Some counter-drone systems are used from stationary or mobile positions on the ground, some are designed to be operated by a single individual by hand, often resembling rifles, and some are designed to be mounted on drones which are guided towards the target UAS.
The Citadel Defense “Titan” Counter Unmanned Aircraft System
On September 26, the Citadel Defense company announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection awarded them a contract for over $1M. The contract is for protection of the southwestern border from drones used by Mexican cartels to transport narcotics and to guide human smugglers bringing migrants across the border. Drones can also be used by Mexican organized criminal organizations to gather intelligence on the positions of U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The Customs and Border Protection agency, to which the Border Patrol belongs, selected a new Citadel product called Titan. The Titan counter drone solution was created to be used by American military and homeland security organizations. It provides users with real-time information, identifying and classifying an approaching unmanned aerial vehicle or even a “swarm” of UAVs. Once the threat has been identified, the Citadel Defense offering applies countermeasures to induce the drone to land or return to its home base.
ABC 10 News (San Diego) demonstrates how Citadel Defense counter drone technology creates a protective "bubble" around a defended area.
CBS 8 San Diego describes in a little more detail how counter drone technology will be put to use by the Border Patrol.
Use of Citadel Defense counter drone technology by U.S. national security agencies
In addition to the U.S. Border Patrol, the Titan Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) is being deployed by a number of U.S. military organizations. Following are recent announcements.
|April 16||A contract worth over $1M from the Defense Logistics Agency, to support the U.S. Special Operations Command. This was already Citadel's sixth government contract.|
|May 2||The United States Air Force awarded Citadel with a contract for their counter drone solution, to help defeat enemy drones on the battlefield. This was not Citadel's first contract with the USAF.|
|May 16||A classified defense customer awarded Citadel with a contract to detect, identify and defeat threatening drones and swarms.|