by Dhruv Yadav

The conflict in Ukraine has proved that drone warfare is hugely relevant and calls for investment. From tanks to artillery, and even individual soldiers are being taken out by drones in the conflict. Places previously considered safe can no longer be treated as such. With thermal imaging and night vision now available on the cheap, even when you can’t see the drone, the drone can see you. Looking at the size and scope of the threat, armed forces, globally, are inducting equipment that can counter drones. There are two main methods to counter the menace: these are hard kill (the drone is physically destroyed using a projectile or lasers), or soft kill (the communication between the drone operator and the drone is jammed, the drone’s ability to use Global Positioning System or GPS can also be hampered by this method).

In the field of counter-drone warfare, it was the navy that took the lead and purchased the Israeli SMassh-2000 system in 2020. This system could help take out a drone once spotted, but it relied on manualiy spotting its target. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been working on such a system. DRDO’s soft-kill system first came to limelight when it guarded the airspace around Red Fort during PM Modi’s 2020 Independence Day speech; a role the system has played ever since.

The system was also used during Modi-Trump roadshow in Ahmedabad. It was after the June 2021 drone attack on the Jammu Air Force Base that the forces woke up to the threat of drones. The armed forces have started inducting anti-drone systems in key locations, primarily the DRDO developed BEL manufactured D4 systems. This system can use both hard kill and soft kill methods to tackle drones. In the hard kill mode, the system uses lasers to destroy the threat. It also comes equipped with advance features such as radars, electro-optronic systems that can work both by day and night.

The conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated the threat of First Person View (FPV) drones to frontline personnel and equipment. Drone have been used to target even individual foxholes. The Indian Army is learning from the two-year-old war. The army has started taking delivery Man Portable Counter Drone System (MPCDS). The advanced and robust set of equipment is completely Made in India. It can detect and defeat drones using the soft kill method up to a distance of 5 KMs.

(With Reporting by