cUAS Technology Series: Mitigation Strategies

This blog post is also available in German, here.

When it comes to taking down unwanted drones, it’s important to lay out what technologies and assets are available, as many defeat systems are restricted or reserved for military use only. In our free overview "Detecting and Neutralizing Drone Threats," we offer you a compact two-page summary of the currently most frequently used sensors and countermeasures, including their advantages and disadvantages.

As is the case with deploying a suitable detection solution, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • Physical environment: The physical environment where mitigation is desired is the first major driver and challenge to determine mitigation options. A very large physical space, such as an airport or military installation poses quite different challenges to a building or campus in a dense, urban environment.  
  • Legal authorization for use:Laws vary across countries for different organizations on how they can defeat drones. The U.S. federal government specifically prohibits the interference with a drone’s operation with very few exceptions, so in order to implement offensive mitigation techniques, users need to research and understand what the legal prohibitions are and what organizations and situations will be exempt from compliance.
  • Current policies and security procedures: Some organizations have existing policies and procedures that define how security teams will respond to reports of drone sightings and in many cases, visual identification of an incursion is first required for further reporting and action.
  • Budget: Based on your threat level, you’ll need to determine how much you can invest in a new security program.

Once this information is established, an organization can then explore what options are suitable for the threat at hand, and start exploring the types of technologies that can provide such a solution.

Types of Mitigation Technologies


Merriam-Webster defines “mitigation” as “to cause to become less harsh or hostile” or “to make less severe or painful”. To mitigate the threat that unauthorized drones pose in a given environment may involve defensive mitigation actions, offensive mitigation actions or a combination of the two.

All organizations can implement defensive responses to drone incursions, but explicit legal authorities must be granted for those using offensive, or defeat mitigation techniques.

Defensive Mitigation Tactics

Here are some examples of defensive mitigation tactics which are available for everyone, including enterprises, correctional facilities, airports, stadiums, militaries or any other organization:

  • Sirens, loudspeaker announcements, flashing lights: The most actionable of all countermeasures, this strategy not only ensures that the drone pilot knows they’ve been spotted, but also can trigger other ground support to implement emergency protective procedures.
  • Leading people and sensitive materials to safety: The first action should be to minimize the risk of injury to people and property, whether it be to move an outdoor gathering away from a hovering drone, or cover and hide sensitive property or prototypes from spies.
  • Dispatching security teams to locate and apprehend drone pilot: With the information collected from the drone detection system, security teams can use the data to directly seek the source of the flight and halt the drone operations. If you survey the airspace over a longer period of time, you’ll discover patterns in drone activity which will highlight airspace vulnerabilities, and allow you to strategically target the areas with the most drone activity.
  • Integration to IoT capabilities for automated responses: Especially when protecting intellectual property or large groups of people, drone detection systems can be integrated into additional security technologies, such as automatically or manually deploying retractable roofs, lowering window blinds, closing doors or enabling additional physical security measures.

There are many ways that location information can be used to either locate or deter a drone operator who is flying where he shouldn’t. It is well worth considering the variety of passive responses that are now possible via the integration of real-time detection data. Although it is only natural to think of defeating unwanted drones, that option is not available to most organizations.


Offensive Mitigation Tactics

For organizations with legal exemptions from the FAA restrictions against interfering with the operation of an aircraft, there are several approaches to defeating drones and in the future, there will undoubtedly be more.

Offensive mitigation techniques include kinetic and non-kinetic solutions that will either hard-kill (destroy the drone hardware) or soft-kill (interfere with the drone software or operating system).

Kinetic Solutions involve some form of physical motion that interrupts the drone hardware

  • Hard-Kill: Shotguns, bullets or other projectiles will destroy or damage the drone
  • Soft-Kill: Net guns or net drones can be deployed to capture the drone, and keep it intact for forensics

For organizations with authorization to use offensive mitigation technologies, Dedrone offers DroneDefender. DroneDefender is an RF-based defeat system that has been adopted as a handheld solution to counter small UAS such as quadcopters and fixed wing airframes, without compromising surrounding safety or risking collateral damage.

Non-Kinetic Solutions do not involve a physical motion, but rather an electronic or technological interference

  • Hard-Kill: Directed energy such as lasers and dazzlers use technology to destroy the drone hardware
  • Soft-Kill: Jamming and protocol manipulation may force the drone to land, return to home, or enable another pilot to commandeer the drone and control the flight path

It is still reasonable to deploy defensive strategies first, and then escalate as needed with offensive tactics to protect assets. Ultimately, drone technology can only be defeated by other technology, which is why many first turn to non-kinetic solutions to control the drone operations, before escalating to a more destructive strategy.

For more information on how to integrate counterdrone technology into your security system, contact our team here.


Updated May 2020

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