While unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) are banned from flying over military bases, there isn’t much legally that the military can do to stop a drone intruder. However, if they were given the authority to stop these intruders, surely the market for anti-drone technology and tools would explode. Market research firm, Frost & Sullivan, estimates that the anti-drone industry is worth between $500 million and a billion right now—and Frost & Sullivan aren’t the only market researchers with that estimate. Other market research firms project estimates of $1.5 billion by 2023. These estimates are based largely on military acquisitions.
Of course, with the current legal state, these anti-drone technologies are currently useless. Counter drone systems range from trained attack eagles to radio jammers directed to energy systems like lasers. And some of these systems are expensive. For example, Blighter Surveillance Systems new anti-drone system, which was purchased by the Spanish military, costs about $1 million. Of course, that system includes a 24-hour, all-weather system with visible and thermal imagery capabilities, acoustic detection, and radar with a 10 kilometer range. When a drone is targeted by this system it sends a jam signal that disables the intruder drone. Most anti-drone systems work by attacking a drone’s radio transmissions or taking complete control of the drone and initiating a forced landing. However, none of these systems are legal in the United States because they interfere with legal radio transmissions such as wireless computer networks, which puts the jammer in the sights of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
There are other more brute force methods—a net fired by a bazooka-type launcher, attack drones (i.e., a ‘dog fight’ between drones)—but these methods are not permitted under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) because drones are afforded the same legal protections as manned aircraft. Brining a drone down is a felony regardless of how or why it is done. So, downing a drone even over a military base is treated the same way as if it had been a civilian aircraft.