A two-year-old anti-drone study for safety of vital installations is back on the table for discussions following the twin attacks at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Jammu. The multi-agency research had recommended the use of anti-drone technology and surveillance equipment, and devised a standard operating procedure (SOP) for destroying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The 2019 study had estimated the presence of more than 600,000 unregulated drones of different capacities and sizes in the country, and suggested use of “drone jammers” to block the signals communicating with its ground station. However, experts argue that advanced UAVs cannot be detected using radars or jammers. Moreover, none of the vital installations have anti-drone capabilities despite most of these bases having no-fly zones.

The study, led by the Border Security Force (BSF), also discussed challenges of drone detection and mitigation within populated areas. It is now among the several measures being taken to bolster security.

On Tuesday, PM Modi had discussed with defence minister Rajnath Singh, home minister Amit Shah and national security advisor Ajit Doval “futuristic challenges” in the defence sector and equipping the forces with modern equipment. A day later, officials from the home ministry’s internal security division, directors general of National Security Guards and Central Industrial Security Forces visited Jammu to assess the ground situation. NSG, the elite counterterrorism agency, is the nodal agency for procurement of anti-drone equipment while the CISF is responsible for ensuring the security at all airports and vital installations. The visit came in the backdrop of the drone attack at Jammu that led to minor damage to a building and injured two airmen.

The central team will review the threat to vital installations and re-categorise them to include a wider range of vital installations. At present, the number of vital installations is 777. “We need a comprehensive plan of action and technical solution to combat the menace of drones. The agencies deployed at borders and cities need to come together with required technology tools. A few SoPs have been developed but they need to be upgraded,” said a senior home ministry official.

According to the ministry, it is mandatory to have a licence to fly a drone but several unregulated drones are operational. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security had earlier examined cyber solutions to counter UAVs where the system not only forms a protective layer around an installation but detects the operator and the flying path.

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