Leonardo tackles rogue drones with family of systems

Technologies such as jammers and AI used to counter malicious use of UAS

Leonardo’s Falcon Shield system was deployed to get London Gatwick Airport back up and running in November 2018.

The system was deployed by the RAF to detect, track, identify and geo-locate rogue drones following a series of drone scares which posed a threat to passengers and aircraft. The incident is believed to have cost between £50-70 million in losses to airlines and personal insurance claims.

Alessandro Voli Head of UAS Strategic Campaign stressed the civilian and humanitarian possibilities offered by drone technology meant that they were overwhelmingly used for good. But he added counter measures were needed for occasions when the UAS were used maliciously.

Cheaper drones mean greater threats 

He said: “Nowadays drones are more cheaper than yesterday and last year. There is a possibility that drones can be used as a threat. In order to avoid these threats, we have developed a system or family of systems because we think there is not just good solution, we need a family of sensors, a family of effectors and a command and control system that is very strong.”

The counter drones system tracks and identifies UAS using radars, electromagnetic technology and acoustics and then collects, fuses and correlates the information to identify threats.

Range of countermeasures deployed

Once a threat is identified, countermeasures can be deployed. This includes the system taking command of the drone, deployment of electromagnetic jammers and the GPS being spoofed.

Voli said the systems had to be tailored to both the customer and the scenario, whether they were used for troop training, urban environments or airports.

“We have developed technologies by means of a filter. We can choose the range or bandwidth of the frequencies because we know by using our database, the frequency of the threats because we have a kind of AI and can improve the database to identify new threats coming from the commercial arena.”

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