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Drones & 3D Printing: New Guerrilla Warfare Tools

Drones are reportedly being used by unknown militants in the Syria conflict to drop mortar rounds on troops from the United States and other forces. According to Business Insider and other news outlets, “a drone carrying a mortar dropped it near where they were sleeping.” Source: Business Insider.

Additionally, there are reports that some of the mechanisms being used to activate the payload delivery is 3D printed. We don’t talk much about 3D printing here, but there are significant technologies that are readily accessible for home manufacturing via 3D print. This technology has been used for everything from repairs around the house to full 3D printed guns.

The reality is that a home-built drone can be produced with 3D printed parts, and have customized mechanism engineered for delivering payload including explosives.

This introduces a severe complexity when assessing and implementing a drone detection system. Most drone detection systems identify the 70% of commercial off the shelf (COTS) drones that utilize WiFi signals (2.4 – 5.8 GHz). However, most home-built and hobby drones do not use these frequencies for communications, they leverage 400/900 MHz band communications.

As validated by a facility’s design basis threat, and if the risk of aerial delivered improvised explosives devices is real, the cost justification for the deployment of a more comprehensive drone detection system must include the assessment and analysis of multiple bands covering both COTS and home-built drone systems.

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