A Polish security firm has won the contract to protect the largest Saudi telecommunications operator from drone attacks.
Advanced Protection Systems (APS) from Gdynia won the contract with Saudi Telecom after beating off other international competitors with their lauded Ctrl+Sky security system.
The number of drones is increasing rapidly with the Federal Aviation Administration estimating 2 million in the United States alone and a number of high profile drone attacks such as the Saudi oil attacks in September this year, meaning many businesses are looking at protection solutions.
APS have already successfully protected sports events at Gdynia Stadium and are deployed at Stavanger Airport and others airports operated by Avinor throughout Norway.
Dr. Maciej Klemm, CEO and co-founder of APS said: “Modern armies have always been the first recipients of technological innovations. This is also the case.
“No wonder, in the Middle East, UAVs are constantly appearing over critical infrastructure. Every day we hear about drone bombs used by terrorists, or about drones disrupting air traffic, thus generating enormous costs for economies.”
APS demonstrated their Ctrl + Sky system at tests organized by the Michigan State Police Department. The system detected, tracked and neutralized all drones used by US police force during the tests.
A major concern for many in law enforcement is how drones are being used to transport drugs and weapons, often dropping contraband into prison yards by flying above walls or wire fencing.
“Contraband of weapons, drugs or prison calls by air is a real scourge in the United States. Building higher and higher fences is not effective when illegal shipments are delivered by drones30” Wayne Horvath, head of sales for APS in the USA said.
APS estimates their number of potential customers at approximately 300,000 and the market value of Ctrl + Sky is growing each year.
The drone detection market is targeted at airports, prisons, power plants and utilities, government and critical infrastructure facilities, border crossings, public events as well as VIP’s who value privacy.
Drones from across the border dropped AK-47 rifles, narcotics in Punjab. With ISI help, Pakistan-based Khalistani terror groups was planning a 26/11-type attack.
Heavy-lifting drones were used by Pakistan to drop AK-47 rifles, counterfeit currency and narcotics in 10 sorties spanned over eight days, an investigation into weapons seizure at Tarn Taran in Punjab has revealed. The arms and ammunition, dropped by drones that came from across the border, was for terrorists to carry out 26/11-like attacks in Punjab and its neighbouring states, sources in the Punjab Police have said. The plan, supported by Pakistan’s ISI, was revealed after the Punjab Police seized a drone during its probe into the weapons seizure.
The recovery of drone, allegedly used to drop arms and ammunition in Punjab, was made on the basis of information provided by the four Khakiastan Zindabad Force (KZF) terrorists arrested from Tarn Taran on September 22. The arrested terrorists had made an attempt to burn the drone but failed. The recovery of the drone led police to the operation. The drone has now been sent for a forensic examination to ascertain as to what type of gadgets were put in it avoid radar and other surveillance equipment.
Investigations have revealed that Chinese drones with 10kg payloads were used to drop weapons. The payloads were sent by Pakistan-based Khalistani terror groups between September 9 and 16, officials in security agencies have been quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Arrested Khalistani terrorist Akashdeep has confessed that he was in contact with Pakistan-based Khalistani terrorist Ranjeet Singh Neeta. He said Neeta’s number was provided to him by another Khalistani terrorist Gurmeet Singh alias Bagga who lives in Germany. Gurmeet Singh alias Bagga would share the information about the consignment route with Nita and the place and the time to drop consignments was decided by Akashdeep Singh, sources in the Punjab Police said.
As per sources, the powerful drone weighs nearly 10 kg and is capable of transporting 4kg weight in a single sortie. This implies that the drone was used for a number of sorties and not only carried arms and ammunition but also counterfeit currency and narcotics.
The Federal Aviation Administration has announced new airspace restrictions effective July 11, 2019 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) attempting to fly over national security sensitive locations.
The FAA has been cooperating with federal partners to address concerns about malicious drone operations by using the agency’s existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 99.7 (14 CFR § 99.7), Special Security Instructions, to establish UAS specific flight restrictions over select, national security sensitive locations.
The FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), FDC 8/3277, defines these special security instructions. The FAA published a NOTAM, FDC 9/3332, which alerts UAS operators and others in the aviation community of this change and points to FDC 8/3277. The additional 12 restricted locations requested by the U.S. Department of Defense have been identified.
UAS operators, in particular, are urged to review the special security instructions prescribed by FDC 8/3277 and the important supporting information provided by the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery System (UDDS) website. The UDDS website provides easy access to the text of FDC 8/3277 and other UAS-specific security NOTAMs; a current list of the airspace to which these special security instructions have been applied, supported by an interactive map and downloadable geospatial data; and other crucial details. A link to these restrictions is also included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app.
The new UAS flight restrictions highlighted above and by FDC 9/3332 are pending until they become effective on 07/11/2019. UAS operators should keep in mind that access to the airspace identified by FDC 8/3277 and UDDS is strictly controlled. Operators who violate these flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.
The FAA is continuing to consider additional requests by eligible Federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the agency’s 14 CFR § 99.7 authority as they are received. The FAA will announce any future changes, including additional locations, as appropriate.
Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement has launched drones at a Saudi airport, the second such attack in two days.
Five drones targeted Abha airport and the nearby city of Khamis Mushait, Saudi officials said in a statement.
No casualties were reported and Abha airport was said to be running normally without any disruption to flights. An attack on Abha on Wednesday injured 26 people.
Yemen has faced consistent bombing by coalition forces since March 2015. The country has been devastated by the conflict, which escalated when the rebels seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.
Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at restoring Mr Hadi’s government.
In a statement, the Saudi-led coalition said: “The royal Saudi air defence force and air force successfully intercepted and destroyed five unmanned drone aircraft launched by Houthi militia towards Abha international airport and Khamis Mushait.”
The Houthi-run channel Al Masirah TV confirmed the group had carried out a drone attack on the airport.
On 24 May 2019, the European Commission adopted EU rules to ensure increasing drone traffic across Europe is safe and secure for people on the ground and in the air.
The rules will apply to all operators of drones – both professionals and those flying drones for leisure. Following the technical requirements for drones, this is another key deliverable under the Commission’s Aviation Strategy for Europe whose core objectives are to maintain the highest level of safety and to support the competitiveness of the EU’s aviation industry.
These rules, which will replace existing national rules in EU Member States, not only address safety, but also contain important building blocks to mitigate drone related security risks. Through operators’ registration, remote identification and the definition of geographical zones, all national authorities will have means to prevent misuse or unlawful drone activities. As of 2020, drone operators will have to be registered with national authorities. In principle, the rules apply to all drones regardless of weight. However, the majority of the drones concerned will belong to the market of mass-produced drones, which merely need to meet a minimum set of requirements such as registration and electronic identification.
Operators of drones weighing less than 25 kg will be able to fly those without prior permission under a certain number of conditions. Among others, such conditions are that the drone must not fly higher than 120 meter and that the operator always keeps the drone in his/her visual line of sight and flies it far away from people.
Pilots had no time to take evasive action during the incident, which was rated a high risk of collision.
A British Airways flight carrying 300 passengers came within just feet of striking a drone, an aviation report has revealed.
The incident occurred on 26 February at Potters Bar, 25 miles north of London Heathrow airport and is believed to be the closest near-miss between a BA flight and a drone.
After taking off from Heathrow, the flight to Abu Dhabi ascended to 6,000 feet where it nearly collided with the drone at 1:35 PM. The Boeing 777 aircraft was travelling at more than 300 miles per hour when the pilots spotted the drone, leaving them with no time to take evasive action to avoid a direct collision.
A report from the UK Airprox Board, which reviews airspace incidents, lists the incident as the highest level of risk of a collision. The Civil Aviation Authority-backed authority explains: “Both pilots saw a white, square-shaped object straight ahead and marginally lower. About half a second later it passed underneath the left wing. There was insufficient time to take avoiding action.”
The drone was flying in a controlled air space and was more than 10 times the legal 400 feet height limit. The pilots reported the incident to air traffic control, who issued a warning to other aircraft on the flight path. The Airprox Board agreed that “the drone was flown into conflict with the aircraft” and “a definite risk of collision had existed.” The drone was never found and its owner was not identified.
A spokesperson for British Airways told: “We take such matters extremely seriously and our pilots report incidents so that the authorities can investigate and take appropriate action.”
Two of Saudi Arabia oil pumping stations were hit by drone attacks on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia said two of its oil pumping stations were hit by drone attacks on Tuesday, heightening concerns about the security of the kingdom’s energy infrastructure 48 hours after two of its tankers were struck.
Yemeni Houthi rebels aligned with Tehran claimed responsibility for the assault on the stations, which came amid escalating tensions between the US, its Arab allies and Iran.
Saudi officials said Tuesday’s attacks caused limited damage. But a spokesman for the militants told al-Masirah, a Houthi-run television station, the group was “capable of carrying out qualitative operations on a larger scale deep inside aggressor countries”.
Khalid al-Falih, the Saudi energy minister, said the attacks on the pumping stations “prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran”.
The Houthis, who are fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s four-year war, have previously used drones and missiles to strike targets in the kingdom and in the Red Sea.
Three flights have been diverted after a possible drone sighting at Gatwick Airport.
EasyJet flights from Barcelona and Amsterdam were diverted to Stansted, as was a British Airways flight from Heraklion, Greece. All three later landed at Gatwick more than 90 minutes after their scheduled arrival time.
How can a drone cause so much chaos? A suspected drone closed the airport for 33 hours in December, disrupting the journeys of about 140,000 passengers. A huge police operation and the Army eventually brought the incident under control.
Military anti-drone equipment, which can detect the flying machines and disable them by jamming radio signals, remained at the airport until March.
Both Gatwick and Heathrow are investing millions of pounds into their systems to prevent future flight disruption.
Flights to and from Frankfurt Airport were interrupted briefly on Friday after a drone was seen in the area.
Operator Fraport said takeoffs and landings at Germany’s busiest airport were suspended as a precaution for 29 minutes late Friday afternoon, news agency dpa reported. They resumed after federal police using a helicopter found no more sign of the drone.
Airport officials initially said two drones were sighted but revised that information.
Around 60 of Friday’s 1,439 scheduled Frankfurt flights were canceled, but that was largely because of an unrelated computer problem at an air traffic control center. The drone caused some extra delays, Fraport said.
The popularity of drones makes them a growing threat to aviation.
More than 100,000 travelers were stranded or delayed right before Christmas last year after drone sightings near London’s Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport. No one has been arrested over the incident, which saw the airport shut for parts of three days.
Dublin Airport was forced to suspend all flights due to what it described as a “confirmed sighting of a drone” over its airfield.
A pilot on the airfield spotted the suspected drone at around 11.30am on Thursday and reported it to the Irish Aviation Authority, who made the decision to close the runway.
In a statement released on Twitter, the airport said: “For safety reasons we are temporarily suspending flight operations Dublin Airport due the confirmed sighting of a drone over the airfield. “Passengers should contact their airline’s website for flight updates. We will post updates here when they become available.”
But just 15 minutes later, the airport announced “flight operations” had resumed.
The statement added: “We apologise for any inconvenience. The safety and security of passengers is always our key priority.”
Airport police were seen questioning motorists at a site near the airport which is popular with plane spotters and the Garda confirmed in a short statement the incident was under investigation.
Greenpeace activists flew drones over the Orano La Hague plant and dropped smoke bombs onto the roof of a building containing irradiated fuel.
French nuclear facilities are not sufficiently protected: so say Greenpeace activists, who, on Friday, January 25, flew drones over the Orano La Hague plant and dropped smoke bombs onto the roof of a building containing irradiated fuel. Greenpeace used one drone to drop the smoke bombs; however, the Orano Group, which runs the plant, said that they detected two drones. The group announced that it would file a complaint about the incident. “What is particularly shocking is that this drone was able to drop smoke bombs on the roof,” said Greenpeace campaigned Alix Mazounie. “That is to say, the weak point of a building containing the largest amount of radioactive material in the world.”
Advanced Protection Systems from Poland in partnership with its distributor Anker Sikkerhet AS has finished first phase of Ctrl+Sky system installation at the SOLA airport in Stavanger, Norway.
Ctrl+Sky 3D radars, mounted on a mast will monitor the airspace for drones and birds, while Ctrl+Sky CyView software will automatically inform airports personel of any intrusions of unwanted flying objects. Furthermore, collected data will be archived and statistics will be retrieved for improved situational awareness and enhanced airport safety management. In the final, upcoming phase, Ctrl+Sky RF sensors will be installed to provide additional layer of information on possible drone intrusions.
Ctrl+Sky multisensor system has been selected by AVINOR, the company that owns and manages all the airports in Norway. An eight year contract has been awarded in a tender competition. The airport in Stavanger was selected by AVINOR to be the first one to deploy bird monitoring and counter drone system.
Ctrl+Sky is a multi-sensor military grade counter drone system that is available at commercial pricing. It has been deployed with militaries, law enforcement and security agencies across a number of countries. The sensor network comprises 3D radars, delivering three dimensional information on the aerial targets, coupled with RF sensors, cameras and acoustic sensors, all designed and manufactured inhouse as well as integrated and automated jammers provide for reliable detection and neutralization of any drone.
As more UAVs take to the skies, experts say the ability of law enforcement and security to mitigate the risks they pose is hampered.
For years, security experts have warned about the myriad threats presented by consumer-grade unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones. Aside from UAVs being used to carry out physical attacks on crowds of innocent civilians or against targeted individuals – a capability demonstrated in last year’s assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – perhaps the greatest threat posed by the drones is the potential for collisions with commercial aircraft.
But while pilots in the U.S. and elsewhere have reported drone sightings around airports for some time now, very few, if any of these incidents resulted in significant disruption of air traffic or caused damage to aircraft. However, all of that changed in the space of several weeks last month when what is believed to be a drone collided with an Aeromexico jetliner near the U.S.-Mexico border in early December and multiple drones spotted flying over Britain’s Gatwick Airport just before Christmas forced the delay or cancellation of numerous flights over the span of several days.
Unfortunately, these types of incidents will likely become the norm in the future as the skies become increasingly crowded with drones used by consumers and businesses alike. In fact, according to a statement issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in early 2018, the agency, which has required drone operators to register their aircraft with the government since 2015, announced that the registry had topped one million drones. That figure included 878,000 hobbyist UAVs and 122,000 commercial, public and other drones.
This mass proliferation of UAVs has led critical infrastructure operators and airports, in particular, to look into drone detection and mitigation technologies; however, many end-users still have relatively few options when it comes to actually taking down a drone that poses a threat. Although the FAA Reauthorization Act signed into law late last year gives the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the authority to disable drones that pose a threat to buildings or other assets, the use of counter-drone technology is still limited to the federal government and military, leaving end-users and the vast majority of law enforcement agencies in a tough position.
“The state of things in the Western world is that current legislation is limiting the ability of law enforcement and security organizations to effectively fight drones,” says Avner Turniansky, VP of Strategy for Israeli counter drone startup Vorpal. “The U.S. is probably more advanced in understanding the need to update that legislation.”
Despite the fact that nearly all countries have limitations on where drones can fly and have clearly established no-fly zones over places like airports, Turniansky says that does little to deter someone with ill-intentions or who is just completely clueless about the dangers. Although he believes many of these regulations will be amended, Turniansky says that it will take time.
Luke Fox, Founder and CEO of WhiteFox Defense Technologies, which offers a counter-drone solution that helps end-users detect, identify and mitigate drones, as well as a system that provides secure remote identification and identity management of drones in airspace, echoes the concerns espoused by Turniansky as it relates to the ability of law enforcement to address drones threats.
“While there are a lot of different legal perspectives on the ability to use the technology, there is desperate need for explicit clarity in the law given to expand those authorities to local law enforcement and others responsible for public safety,” Fox says.
Though there is no specific law on the books that says you can’t mitigate a drone, Fox says what is prohibited is the use of technologies commonly used to bring them down.
“In terms of the regulatory environment, you see two primary laws being applied: one is anti-jamming laws that are mostly regulation from the FCC that say, ‘Hey, play nice and don’t mess with the airways and let everyone use them freely,’ and then on the other end of the spectrum is the damage to aircraft laws, which gives FAA the authority to regulate drones in the national airspace system which then defines them as aircraft,” he says.
Given the number and different types of drones flying in the airspace today, Radoslaw Piesiewicz, Co-Founder of Advanced Protection Systems (APS), says that one of the biggest issues facing airports and other end-users is being able to distinguish between them and track them regardless of what technology the operator uses to communicate and navigate.
“The challenge is really to be able to detect each and every drone that could interfere with the airspace. These drones may be controlled by radio link, programmed navigation to fly autonomously via GPS or they might be controlled by a Wi-Fi or radio link that is working in the commercial frequency or a completely different frequency band,” Piesiewicz says. “You might be dealing with commercial drones, professional drones or even homemade drones, you never know and this is exactly the problem because the majority of (detection) systems on the market can only cope with a single type of drone.”
APS’ Ctrl+Sky solution leverages multiple detection technologies, including radar, acoustic array, cameras and RF sensors to detect drones at distances up to 2,000 meters. Once detected, Ctrl-Sky also features a proprietary multi-band jammer that can disrupt the drone’s communication link and navigation.
Drone Mitigation Concerns. While everyone may be clamoring for solutions that can not only detect but take down a drone, Turniansky says drone mitigation is “extremely unpredictable” in general and that all mitigation technologies available today come with a certain amount of uncertainty. For example, while the Army can use bulk jamming with great success in a place like Afghanistan, Turniansky says no one wants to transmit a 100-watt GPS jamming signal anywhere near an airport for fear of harming planes or other critical navigation and communication equipment in the area.
“No one is going to do widespread jamming in an urban environment,” he explains. “You have to do something that is more targeted, more surgical, more delicate, and more precise than just wideband barrage jamming, so mitigation is more limited.”
Vorpal itself offers a “soft takeover” mitigation solution that mimics the command and control signals being sent to the drone, thereby allowing users to take it over and land it safely; however, that technology is export restricted by the Israeli government, according to Turniansky. In cases where export of this technology is not allowed, Turniansky says they have partnered with companies that offer various other mitigation solutions, such as kinetic drone defense or jammer guns, when the user wants it.
“We’ve talked to more than one buyer, who told us, ‘Look, I bought these excellent drone guns, I just don’t know where to point them,’” he says. “But there are more requests today for information, intelligence or awareness than the actual mitigation component.”
Common Misconceptions. Wayne Horvath, who is in charge of Business Development for the U.S. market at APS, says one of the biggest misconceptions that both end-users and integrators have about counter drone technology is that they can install one “catch all” detection technology to address the threat.
“As events like Gatwick happen, people are learning that one solution or one technology is not sufficient to cover all the possible threats,” he says. “We have manufacturers out there putting forth just one solution or one technology and the users think, ‘Ok, I’ve deployed that and it covers all the possibilities,’ and that’s not the case.”
Another common misconception, according to Turniansky, is the notion that drones can be exclusively detected and tracked via radar. While it may seem like an ideal solution on the surface to a lay person, Turniansky says that because most drones are comprised mostly of plastic, reinforced carbon and/or polymer parts, that UAVs are a “pretty bad” target for radar and, when used as the primary detection methodology, typically results in numerous false alarms.
“Almost anything in the air that has a reflective surface at certain angles will look to radar like a bird or a drone and it’s hard to differentiate them,” he says. “Radar manufacturers are now going into micro-Doppler in order to try and mitigate that limitation.”
Vorpal’s VigilAir solution, which was initially developed for the Israeli military, leverages passive RF geolocation of drone command, control and data transmissions to detect, track and mitigate UAV threats. According to Turniansky, the company is most well-known for the accuracy of its geolocation technology, which provides users with a more precise location of a drone and its operator rather than a “general sector” like many offerings on the market.
In speaking with security managers in the U.S. and abroad, Horvath says it is clear that everyone is aware of the looming threats posed by drones but there is still much work to be done when it comes to educating the industry about the technologies that are available and the capabilities they provide.
“The Gatwick incident is a very important wake-up call and from our perspective… this is all about risk management,” says Maciej Klemm, President and Co-Founder of APS. “Critical infrastructure facilities cannot accept the smallest risk of terrorist incidents and with the threats presented by drones, these facilities should be adopting counter-drone systems to lower the security risk to their facility.”
Fox believes it is imperative for both the drone and counter-drone industries that lawmakers provide better guidance on exactly what technologies end-users can leverage to mitigate drone threats and also specify who has the authority to use them before a future incident leads to overregulation.
“Our vision is to safely integrate drones into society, to unlock all of the potential drones offered to society – whether it is delivering life-saving blood transfusions or your Amazon package. These are amazing things that drones can do to truly revolutionize how the world operates and how people use different technologies,” he says. “Unfortunately, there is a concern about drones operating freely and wildly and that is where counter-drone technology allows you to have an enforcement mechanism so that you can lay down rules to the road and have a highway patrol in the sky to enforce against drones that are flying recklessly or maliciously.”
Departures at Heathrow were temporarily stopped after a drone was reported to have been sighted.
Flights from the west London airport resumed about an hour after police said a drone had been seen. It comes after last month’s disruption at Gatwick Airport which saw thousands of people stranded when drones were sighted.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said Heathrow was working with Air Traffic Control and the Metropolitan Police following the incident. “We continue to monitor this situation and apologise to any passengers that were affected by this disruption,” she said.
The Metropolitan Police said they received reports of a drone sighting near Heathrow at about 17:05 GMT.
Before the confirmation that flights had resumed, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he was in contact with the airport about the drone sighting, and had spoken to the home secretary and defence secretary.
BBC cameraman Martin Roberts said he was driving on the M25 past Heathrow airport at about 17:45 GMT when he saw what he believes was a drone. “I could see, I’d say around 300 feet up, very bright, stationary flashing red and green lights, over the Harmondsworth area,” he said.