Four Critical Topics in Comparing and Evaluating C-UAS Technologies

Image Caption: (Mike Mareen/Adobe Stock)

With the growing threat of drone incidents worldwide, the demand for counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) detection and mitigation technologies continues to expand. Each technology has its own specific relevance to different environments, scenarios, and use cases. Therefore, a thorough investigation of both well-established legacy methods and newer innovations and techniques is needed to inform decision-making in the C-UAS system acquisition processes.

RF cyber has recently emerged as one the leading technology options in C-UAS. RF cyber-C-UAS systems cover a significant portion of the commercial and do-it-yourself drone threat, including the most popular high-endurance drones used for terror and crime. Such systems must continuously expand coverage and improve the solution on an ongoing basis. This technology offers detect, track and identify capabilities (DTI) for accurate situational awareness. In addition, it offers safe mitigation, with maximum control over the drone and zero interference to surroundings.

In this article, I review various advanced Cyber C-UAS topics to provide a comprehensive understanding of RF cyber technology’s capabilities when compared to other C-UAS technologies in the context of certain critical issues: False Detections, Drone Type Coverage, Limitations, especially against new drone technologies, and Swarms.

False detections

Drone detection technologies are complex and there is no counter-drone technology that can offer 100 percent detection and protection coverage. Even a multilayered approach will not reach such 100 percent protection . However, a high-end cyber-C-UAS solution has the benefit of zero false alarms, as its detection relies not only on RF characteristics (like most RF-based and DF detection solutions), but also on in-depth understanding of drone data communications. This ability is crucial to maintain zero false alarms. A low false alarm rate is critical, especially when evaluating long-term C-UAS deployments – such as airport or critical infrastructure protection, where any alert may trigger serious response with potentially heavy operational and financial impact.

Drone Knowledge Base

The majority of traditional RF C-UAS systems, including Directional Finders, are library-based solutions, a characteristic in common with cyber-C-UAS systems. When evaluating the library’s features, sometimes there is a tendency to look at the size of the library, i.e., how many different drone types can be detected by the C-UAS system.

But due to the large variety of drone types (including for example lower risk toy category drones), a more sophisticated approach would evaluate the relevance of the drones compared to their associated risk. In most operational scenarios, toy category drones, which can fly only for a few tens of meters with minimal resilience, are not considered as a serious threat even though they are drones which may be easy to detect.

Knowledge base-oriented solutions should be evaluated based on the threat-level definition, popularity of the relevant drone models, and real-life incidents. Measuring quantity of drone types, including less relevant toy category drone models, may be easier but not necessarily the right approach.

In addition, some solutions may include generic detection engines that can detect “new and unknown” drones. These solutions should be evaluated in depth, checking for robustness, false detection rates, and real-life experience. Certain generic detection engines should be able to detect “new drones” with zero false detection rate. In addition, Remote ID (RID) capabilities must meet the RID regulation as implemented in various parts of the world.

Limitations of Jamming Methods

As explained above, there is no such thing as a 100% perfect solution, particularly as drones continuously evolve. There are strengths and weaknesses in all C-UAS technologies.

RF jammers, for example, are comparatively cheap, simple to operate solutions that may achieve some desired effect – temporarily incapacitating all drones in the immediate area. As appealing as this seems, it also brings some significant disadvantages. RF noise may interfere with nearby communications systems and/or GNSS, rendering this mitigation technology problematic in many

sensitive environments.

Jammers do not gain control over a drone; they only disconnect it from its remote control. Once disconnected, it usually tries to return to its take-off (“home”) position, but it may also hover in place or try to land, and some drones can be programmed to do other emergency default actions, which may pose a threat. In addition, jammers may not always permanently eliminate the specific threat, but rather only temporarily block it, since in many cases, the drone will return to the control of its pilot.

Some new navigation technologies have been introduced into the drone market including Visual-Inertial Odometry (VIO), which can be immune to communication jamming and even GNSS jamming, as it combines inertial and video analysis technologies combined for navigation purposes in areas with low or non-GNSS coverage.

High-end cyber systems may then be a favorable solution available to mitigate high-end commercial and custom-made drones which have these new navigation technologies.


Advances in the drone field led to swarming, which the US Air Force defines as “a group of autonomous networked SUAS [small, unmanned aircraft systems] operating collaboratively to achieve common objectives with an operator on or in the loop.”

Being able to detect and mitigate more than one drone at a time is critical for advanced security protection. RF Cyber has been successfully tested for the mitigation of swarms of drones without disrupting other communications, radio command and control systems (C2) and/or navigation systems in the area. Having a long mitigation range with omni-coverage has been shown to be much more effective in mitigating swarms than mid-power jammers with directional antennas or very high-power jammers with omni-directional antennas.

In tests, when trying to contend with swarms with jamming techniques, severe collateral damage has been seen, an unacceptable outcome in sensitive and civilian environments.

A clear and comprehensive evaluation of the features and benefits of a C-UAS solution is critical for strong decision-making support in evaluating system capabilities. Such an evaluation should include the topics discussed here, namely false detections, drone coverage, jamming limitations, and swarms.

Editorial Note: This is an opinion article written by Yaniv Benbenisti, President, D-Fend Solutions.