With close monitoring of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) movement becoming imperative in the backdrop of the government opening up the skies to privately owned UAV’s and the growing security threat posed by rogue drones, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing a new electro-optical system for tracking such flying objects.
The project is being undertaken by Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun, which has recently embarked on another project to develop an electro-optical system for coastal and harbor surveillance.
This is the second known project by DRDO to develop a surveillance system to track drones. Last year, the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) at Bengaluru fielded a counter-drone system deployed as part of the security cover for Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations in the capital.
LRDE’s system has also been demonstrated to the armed forces as well as border guarding forces. The technology for its manufacture has been transferred to the industry for commercial production.
According to DRDO sources, the system to be developed by IRDE is required to detect a four-feet long UAV flying at about 300 kph from a distance of 3 km and a drone having a size of about one foot and flying at about 70 km from a distance of 2 km.
The system will employ thermal Imagers, high-resolution video cameras, laser illuminators, and laser range finders to detect and track drones. It will also be capable of being integrated with airspace surveillance radars.
Given the small size, the minuscule radar signature, the low operating altitude and the slow speed of most drones, conventional air defence systems or standalone equipment are not effective to detect them.
DRDO sources said that a combination of several types of systems including electromagnetic and radio emission, the reflection of microwave, infrared and visible light through optical instruments is required to detect, track and identify drones. Options to neutralize them include soft-kill such as jamming or hacking their radio signals or hard-kill like shooting them down.
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