cUAS Technology Series: Mitigation Strategies

In the first parts of Dedrone’s cUAS Technology Series, we discussed how to detect drones using hardware and software. In this third part of the series, we explore types of defeat systems and strategies. After cUAS hardware collects data about the drone, this data is then fed into a software system, which can then make decisions and provide more information on what’s happening in the airspace. Defeat strategies and systems are the direct actions taken to protect assets or eliminate the drone threat.

When it comes to taking down unwanted drones, there are a lot of questions to be asked and some technological and legislative realities to contend with.

The simplest question to ask and the hardest to answer is this: once you are aware there is a drone in your environment, what do you want to happen? From there, it’s important to lay out what technologies and assets are available, as many defeat systems are restricted or reserved for military use only.

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: The 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
  • 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
  • Dispatching UAS security forces: Many organizations are beginning to use drones for property surveillance and security, and an unauthorized drone in the airspace may be an opportunity to seek more information using similar flight technology

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

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.

Lisa Meserve is the Federal Sales Manager for Dedrone and can be reached at lisa.meserve@dedrone.com.


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