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Drones are, frankly, awesome. But there are some bad actors who could use them for nefarious activities.
For these reasons, many companies around the world, including engineering-giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are producing anti-drone weapons to counter the potential threats drones can offer.
RELATED: DRONE HUNTERS: 9 OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE ANTI-DRONE TECHNOLOGIES FOR SHOOTING DRONES OUT OF THE SKY
What is an anti-drone gun?
Counter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (C-UAV), or anti-drone, weapons, and guns are any of a range of countermeasures designed to either destroy or immobilize a target drone. They can come in the form of handheld weapons akin to traditional projectile guns, to larger artillery-scale devices and even smart missiles.
They have been primarily designed to protect against security breaches from drones that are being used for malicious or nefarious activities. Military drones, for example, can be used to deliver payloads to potential targets, while drones can also be used to deliver contraband to prisoners.
Drones may also intentionally stray into flight paths of aircraft, or breach security to take photos or record video footage.
How does drone gun work?
How anti-drone guns work depends entirely on the system in question. Of all the systems available they broadly fall into several categories:
- They physically destroy the drone using a projectile like a missile.
- They use of high-energy beams to either disrupt or destroy drones outright.
- They disrupt the drone's systems (like GPS, R/C, etc).
- They can physically capture drones midflight using things like nets.
Is it possible to buy anti-drone guns online?
You most certainly can. From anti-drone bazookas to anti-drone handheld guns, there are some systems available to buy online right now.
But make sure you do some due diligence before purchasing them. For example, check if they are not banned by the laws of the land before spending your hard-earned cash.
What are some examples of anti-drone weapons?
So without further ado, here are 7 examples of anti-drone weapons from around the world.
1. These "Bastille Frequency Cannons" look like toy guns
While the photo above might look photoshopped, these are indeed real soldiers with real anti-drone guns. Nicknamed "Bastille Frequency Guns" on Reddit, the Droneshield DroneGun Tactical (on the right), is a fantastic anti-drone weapon.
The soldier on the left appears to be wielding a Droneshield DroneGun Mk111.
Both these models work by disrupting the connection between the drone and it's pilot's controls at a distance of up to 2.5 km away.
"DroneGun Tactical provides a safe countermeasure against a wide range of drone models. It allows for controlled management of drone payload such as explosives, with no damage to common drones models or surrounding environment due to the drones generally responding via a vertical controlled landing on the spot, or returning back to the starting point (assisting to track the operator)." - Droneshield.
2. Lockheed Martin's ATHENA is badass
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) system is an anti-drone weapon like nothing else. Designed to take out military-grade drones, this system would probably be over the top for commercial UAVs.
It works by literally blasting drones out of the sky using a giant laser. The systems currently being trialed with the U.S. Army Space and Missle Defense command are 30-kilowatt versions.
ATHENA can also knock out missiles, vehicles and smalls boats, too. There are plans to scale the system up to 120-kilowatts in the future.
3. SkyWall 100 is basically an anti-drone bazooka
The SkyWall 100 is a fantastic piece of kit. They are effectively net-launching bazookas that can take out drones up to 100 meters away.
Each unit weighs around 22 pounds (10 kg) and is designed to be fired from the shoulder. They use compressed air to launch their specially designed nets with pretty good accuracy.
The unit incorporates predictive algorithm systems to help the operator lock on and hit the target drone with ease. Once the net has successfully enveloped the target drone, it deploys a small parachute to bring the target safely to the ground for capture.
4. Check out the ELI-4030 Drone Guard
ELI-4030 Drone Guard, developed by ELTA Systems, is yet another high-tech solution to the potential security threats offered by drones. Fitted with an Active Electronically Scanning Phased Array (AESA), Combined COMINT/Jammer, and Remote Control and GPS/GLONASS jamming, this system is able to knock out a range of drones and other UAVs.
"ELTA's Drone Guard is an operationally proven multi-sensor multi-layer C-UAS solution developed for the military and homeland security market. Military-grade and rugged for all types of environments, the Drone Guard is a modular turn-key solution that covers all aspects of counter threatening UAS." - IAI.
5. DroneDefender looks like something out of a computer game
DroneDefender is yet another example of a direct-energy anti-drone weapon. Originally developed by Battelle, the system has since been acquired by Dedrone as of 2019.
The weapon works by disrupting the drone's remote control system, and GPS forcing it to automatically land. It weighs around 15 pounds (7 kg) and has enough power to run continuously for 2 hours or so.
The weapon is not yet commercially available and is not authorized by the Federal Communications Commission.
6. HELMD is the ultimate solution for troublesome drones
Developed by Boeing, their High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HELMD) takes anti-drone weaponry to its logical conclusion; "Anti-Drone Death Rays." Utilizing high energy lasers, the system is so large, it needs to be mounted on the back of a truck.
It can be controlled using an Xbox controller, and it is able to knock out drones in any weather conditions. The technology was not primarily developed as a counter-drone system and is capable of dealing with projectiles like missiles and other airborne threats.
7. Meet SAVAGE - A smart anti-drone missile
And last, but by no means least, this surface-to-air and air-to-air anti-UAV missile might be the coolest thing you've seen today. Dispensing with the notion of simply disrupting UAVs systems, this weapon is hell-bent on utterly obliterating them in the air.
Developed by SmartRounds Inc., SAVAGE (Smart Anti-Vehicle Aerial Guided Engagement) is a revolutionary new class of smart "fire and forget" projectiles designed for use by government security and military agencies.
Once launched, the mini-rockets travel at 350 mph (563 kph) and are guided to their target using computer vision object detection and target tracking, a form of artificial intelligence AI.