The Ministry of Defence has selected Leonardo to support a multi-million-pound research & development programme to better understand counter drone technology.

Building on previous R&D undertaken with the company in this area, Leonardo will support the RAF to explore technical mitigations to the current threats posed by hostile drones through the evaluation of mature and evolving sensor and effector technology.

Starting in early 2020 the primary integration work will be mainly undertaken by Leonardo at its Basildon and Southampton sites, with real-time testing undertaken at several MoD locations within the UK.

The three-year programme will examine and inform how the RAF can detect, track, identify and defeat rogue drones.  It will also support the RAF  in responding to current and evolving  threats and ensure it keeps pace with technology over time, say the firm.

Announcing the programme at DSEi last week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“Last year at Gatwick and Heathrow we saw the peril drone technology poses to our airspace.

Today I can announce that the RAF will be working with Leonardo on a three-year programme, looking at how to detect, track, identify and defeat rogue drones as this technology continues to evolve.”

The primary aim of the R&D programme will be to help understand and inform requirements for a potential future core RAF counter-drone capability.

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JulianterryJspyintheskyukmaurice10Daniele Mandelli Recent comment authors
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maurice10
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maurice10

After the Suadi attack, my stated fears on this site have been realised. The lethality of small hand-controlled devices such as these, pose possibly, one of the greatest threats facing us today. Any target is achievable from large strategic targets to an individual’s home!

Terror from the sky may be challenged at most government and public zones in the future, but what about the local schools or our homes? They talk about home delivery drones, how on earth can we stop deliveries of a harmful kind?

crabfat
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crabfat

Well said Maurice, but a three year programme to sort out an urgent problem? A situation like Gatwick could occur again tomorrow. And, after the Saudi attack, what defence does the UK currently have for its oil storage facilities? This problem requires an urgent solution – not a three-year plod.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Agree. Something will happen, after the event. Like Westminster Bridge.

maurice10
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maurice10

One extream solution could be the immediate ban in the UK of private (hobby) flyers? However, the current counter plans will take too long and any challenge in the courts would probably win? What if tracking sensors were mandatory for all drones, which would be possible, if there were enough tracking devises and manpower to control them? There simply is no immediate solution, in controlling mass usage, and whilst we all live in this technology vacuum, we can only keep our finger’s crossed.

terryJ
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terryJ

How with 3D printed parts cheap DC motors, any 6 year old can build a simple point and shoot drone..

Julian
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Julian

The Saudi attack also got my attention too and, from the internet searching that I did to try and find out what sort of drones were used, the speculation that I found showed things that look closer to cruise missiles than pro/semi-pro drones that we’re all sort of familiar with to me. I’m not saying that weaponising professional or semi-professional commercial drones, e.g. ones used for filming, isn’t a huge potential issue but at least in the Saudi case this doesn’t seem to be what was used. Stuff I found with more detailed speculation on what was used in the… Read more »

T.S
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Quite a challenge, particularly in built up areas. Ballistic or energy weapons could cause collateral damage if a shot goes stray, and I believe strong jamming could fry nearby electronics? Also what happens when the drone falls?
At this stage, a drone killing/capturing drone might be the only option. Or a small loitering self propelled munition with AI that can take out the drone at a time of choosing when safe to do so?

spyintheskyuk
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spyintheskyuk

I am thinking we will have to have a serious debate about the whole issue of drones and their availability to the general population and businesses. I was working at an RC company some 12 years ago when these things were becoming feasible and sailable to the general public and the progress in 10 years is incredible. In another 10 years the capabilities in terms of duration, carrying capacity and automation doesn’t bare thinking about and if availability is uncontrolled then these will be like suicide bombers on our streets… without the suicide a scary proposition where unless urgent progress… Read more »

Julian
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Julian

“Also what happens when the drone falls?” That’s a problem in civilian areas. I’ve seen it happen – a photography drone filming a tall building demolition, not that much bigger than the top-of-the-range drones you could get in Maplins, had some catastrophic failure (power failure?) and fell vertically to hit the ground about 2m in front of me. Luckily “2m in front of me” was just inside the cordoned off safety area for the demolition blasts but it was very obvious from the almighty bang that it made when it hit the ground that it was carrying enough energy on… Read more »