Training for Counter-UAS Operations: Preparing for Drone Attacks

February 22, 2024 | Boaz Neeman-Golan

From airspace intrusions to surveillance to smuggling contraband, drones have become the tool of choice for different degrees of malicious activities. Their compact size, accessibility, and variety of applications have introduced unique security challenges to airspaces. 

As conventional defense mechanisms fall short, there is a critical demand for robust strategies for counter-UAS operations. 

To address these unique challenges head-on, it has become imperative to establish training programs dedicated to counter-UAS operations. Such training is necessary for arming security personnel with the expertise to adeptly navigate and neutralize the diverse drone threats encountered.  

This article delves into various training tactics, strategies, and technology essential for effective counter-UAS operations.

Tactical Training for Counter-UAS Operations

Tactical Training for Counter-UAS Operations

Effective counter-UAS operations begin with rigorous tactical training, designed to prepare operators and defense personnel for the range of scenarios they might encounter.

1. Threat Assessment and Scenario-Based Training 

Understanding the threat landscape is the foundation of developing strong security measures. But, this extends far beyond a basic understanding of different drone types; it requires a deep dive into the range of potential threats, depending on your sector, the specifics of these threats, and tailored strategies to mitigate them. 

Security personnel must be proficient in quickly recognizing signs of imminent drone threats, including unusual flight patterns and suspicious behavior. Personnel should also learn to recognize different drone models and their different characteristics, which is vital for assessing a drone’s capabilities.

Central to this approach is the implementation of comprehensive scenario-based training exercises that mirror various real-life drone encounters. By engaging in practical training, personnel can gain firsthand experience, thereby equipping them with the skills to effectively respond to drone-related security breaches that may arise within their specific environments.

2. Drone Detection

Counter-UAS Operations, Detection

Technology obviously plays a significant role in drone detection. There are various counter-UAS technologies available to you, but for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on our end-to-end RF-Cyber based solution, EnforceAir2.

The first line of defense is the ability to detect drone presence accurately and rapidly and understand their capabilities, intent, and potential threat level. 

EnforceAir2 offers security personnel a sophisticated means to detect drones, in a wide range of environments, by employing advanced RF cyber-detection techniques. Its capabilities open the doors to early identification of drones, even before they enter restricted or sensitive airspace, providing a crucial time advantage for implementing countermeasures.

Like with all recent technologies, personnel must be trained to effectively operate the solution. During training, engage personnel in exercises that focus on the system’s ability to detect and identify a hostile drone. Doing so equips individuals with the skills to use EnforceAir2 to start the first steps of a process that safely manages drone threats and secures operational continuity without resorting to methods that could cause collateral damage. 

3. Response Protocols

Given the diverse nature of drone threats, it’s essential to develop response protocols that are specifically tailored to the severity of threats encountered. Training for these responses needs to be comprehensive to ensure that actions taken during drone incidents are both effective and proportionate.

Training programs should reflect a structured approach for responses, categorizing threats into distinct levels. Of course, the way you classify a threat will vary greatly depending on the operational context, industry specifics, and existing security protocols.

Threat levels should be determined by the individual operator, based on the type of facility, locations, sensitivity, types of drones, and mitigation options based on regulations. Various mitigation options should be defined based on the determined threat level and the organization’s structure, processes, and policies.

Consider the following scenarios: 

Low-Level Threat Scenario: Recreational Drone Flying Toward Restricted Airspace

Example: A hobbyist’s recreational drone inadvertently strays near the airspace over a corporate warehouse. While there doesn’t seem to be any malicious intent, the drone’s presence poses a risk for privacy breaches. 

Training point: security personnel must be trained to identify the drone’s potential entry point, and the possible risk based on its flight path. An appropriate response at this point would be to continue to monitor the drone’s movements while communicating with various teams to prepare to engage in defense measures, should the threat escalate and possibly approach the pilot to investigate intent.

Medium-Level Threat Scenario: Drone Surveillance Near Sensitive Data Centers

Example: A drone equipped with a high-resolution camera attempting to capture sensitive information at a data center is detected. 

Training point: In this scenario, emphasis should be on identifying and assessing the drone’s capabilities, (speed, flight pattern, size, payload, etc.) and quickly use a predefined privacy protection plan, as well as learning to mitigate the drone so it leaves the protected airspace without causing widespread panic.

High-Level Threat Scenario: Multiple Drones Approaching a Public Event

Example: Multiple drones are detected approaching a public event intending to conduct a coordinated attack.

Training point: This type of threat requires decisive action. In this scenario, personnel could be trained, for example, in deploying an RF cyber-based counter-UAS operational solution, to take control of the drones and neutralize the threat safely, without collateral damage. Trainees can also be introduced to the MSC2 system, which controls and coordinates multiple EnforceAir sensors from a centralized server supporting efforts to ultimately neutralize a swarm of drones. 

4. Collaborative Team Exercises

DJI Matrice 600 drone

The idiom “There’s no I in TEAM” might sound cliché, but it still holds a significant truth, particularly in the context of counter-UAS operations. 

Develop collaborative team exercises that encourage personnel to work together as one to address complex drone threats. These types of exercises foster teamwork, an environment with clear communication, the exchange of insights, and swift decision-making, which are essential components in efficiently managing drone-related threats. 

These collaborative exercises should include various teams, including monitoring, ground security, and command center personnel. Remember, coordination between different teams is critical for effective response, not to mention the harmonious implementation of counter-UAS technologies. 

5. Mitigation

Detection is only part of the battle when it comes to drone attacks. Once aware of the threat, authorized personnel, when allowed by regulations, must be able to swiftly mitigate it – and that involves extensive training in mitigation technologies. 

Our advanced solution, EnforceAir2, employs RF cyber-takeover, a sophisticated technology that non-invasively takes control of hostile drones with a focus on RF communications. It then mitigates, taking control of the drone and directing it to the safest landing point according to the user-defined protection plan, potentially along a predetermined safe route. This method of RF cyber-takeover is especially beneficial as it avoids collateral damage and does not interfere with other communication systems, preserving continuity and safety. 

Integrating the use of our solution into mitigation training can significantly enhance your C-UAS training efforts. Training should focus on understanding the appropriate protection plans and configuring them accordingly to effectively and safely take control of the drone. Such skills are vital for preventing drones from carrying out harmful activities and guiding them to land in predetermined safe zones for safe outcomes. 

6. Counter-UAS Operations: Post-Incident Analysis 

Counter-UAS Operations, post incident analysis

As the drone threat is always evolving, post-incident analysis has become increasingly important for assessing the effectiveness of response strategies, refining standard operating procedures, and improving readiness for any future incidents.

Whether you train from domestic incidents or global ones (we recommend you consider both), learning how to meticulously report and analyze response actions after every hostile drone incident is crucial. This helps in pinpointing successful strategies and areas for improvement. 

Strategic Training Framework Considerations

Beyond the immediate tactical training, a well-rounded strategic framework is essential for sustained security measures. This includes:

  • Regulatory Compliance: personnel should be aware of regulations governing counter-UAS operations. Training programs should include discussion of relevant laws, airspace regulations, and the use of counter-drone technology to support compliant operations. 
  • Continuous Adaptation: Counter-UAS training should be viewed as a continuous, evolving journey, not just a single event. Organizations need to stay alert and regularly update their training programs to keep pace with modern technologies and evolving tactics. This ongoing commitment is vital to anticipate and counter emerging drone threats effectively.

Preparing for the Unpredictable with Counter-UAS Operations

Drone threat is unpredictable

We might not be able to foresee the next drone attack, but we can certainly prepare for its eventuality. Effective counter-UAS operations require a blend of tactical prowess, strategic planning, and advanced technology. Through comprehensive training on the adoption, implementation, and usage of innovative solutions like EnforceAir2, you can support your preparedness to address the complex challenges posed by unauthorized drone use. 

To learn more about D-Fend Counter-UAS solutions, reach out to our team of experts today. We’re here to offer you detailed training to successfully operate the EnforceAir system to effectively detect, track, identify, and mitigate drone threats.

Boaz Neeman-Golan, D-Fend Solutions’ Professional Services Team Leader, brings years of experience in developing, maintaining, executing, and delivering technical services and technical material to the company’s customer base. Maintaining a customer-centric approach, Boaz is an expert in managing the technical services team, with in-depth knowledge in the drone arena.

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