Law enforcement agencies and military units responsible for major event security, such as for the upcoming Gold Coast XXI Commonwealth Games, are increasingly looking for counter-UAS solutions and ASX-listed companies are seeing increased demand for their offerings.
In February, the Queensland Police Service announced it would be using the DroneShield DroneGun MkII for aerial protection of the Games. Earlier this week there were reports that officers, perhaps over-enthusiastically, had brought down a small UAS that had been flying close to the aerial exclusion zone, despite no breach having occurred.
The DroneGun MkII, prohibited for use in the US by the Federal Communications Commission, is compliant with Australian requirements regarding human exposure to radio frequencies and works by effectively jamming the ability of the operator to control the UAS, resulting in either a controlled descent or a return to the operator (thereby exposing their location). It has a range of up to two kilometres and is powered via a battery pack worn by the person carrying the effector.
DroneShield sensors were also deployed at the recent PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea and a tactical variant of the DroneGun has now been released, with pictures of French President Emmanuel Macron checking out the device during a recent visit to a French Army base. The French have not purchased the solution as yet, but DroneShield is setting up a European demo hub in The Netherlands, close to the NATO Joint Force Headquarters.
DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik said Governmental end-users, both military and civil, throughout Europe, are currently largely helpless against the threat of intentional or unintentional drone misuse.
“As the density of the drone population has increased dramatically, the frequency and the severity of incidents have gone up. As a result, governmental end-users have now recognised the need to have tools at their disposal to detect and mitigate drones,” Vornik said.
The company has applauded the Australian Government’s Defence Export Strategy, with chairman Peter James saying it will help small companies like DroneShield to access the supply chains of the global primes.
“It is a major economic, productivity and Defence step for Australia. We have spent the recent weeks considering the Strategy and its effect and are convinced that the Government got it right.”
James added the company was seeking to determine whether it could locate larger-scale manufacture for its products in Australia.
“The Strategy gives us the comfort that if we were to bring the manufacture of our products and the associated employment to Australia, we will be making the right decision.”
Another ASX-listed company, Department 13, is also seeking to gain a slice of the local and international counter-UAS market, and it has recently garnered the support of one of the world’s largest primes.
D13’s Mesmer solution exploits the well-defined techniques used by radios to begin communications with a UAS and maintain a radio link. The non-jamming ‘protocol manipulation’ method adapts to the protocol used to control the UAS and allows messages to be inserted, telling it to exit a restricted airspace, return home, or land in a predetermined safe zone. D13 claims it can simultaneously control swarms of drones that use different radio protocols.
CEO Jonathan Hunter told ADM recently the company had entered into a teaming agreement with Raytheon to market and support existing counter-UAS technologies and co-develop new capabilities.
“Their focus will be on trying to sell Mesmer Version 1.5 to their key market set – obviously from our perspective they have an international presence that allows us to access significant opportunities in terms of size and scale. They can integrate Mesmer on a much greater scale than we could ever have done.”