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Soft Kill vs Hard Kill C-UAS

Drones are capable of serving us in many ways. From an enjoyable hobby to agricultural uses, it is clear that drones are capable of improving our day to day lives. However, not all that glitters is gold. With all the good they can do, drones are capable of causing great damage, and wreaking havoc. Drones, even commercial ones available to the wide public, can carry explosives, attack sensitive infrastructure, smuggle forbidden goods and be used for espionage. The fact that drones are affordable, easily obtained and easily controlled combined with the destructive potential they hold makes them a serious threat that needs to be solved. This is where counter drone solutions come in.

Counter drone solutions come in many different forms, but are divided into two main categories: Hard kill solutions, and Soft kill solutions. Hard kill solutions involve physical harm to the drone, meaning physical methods to bring the drone down. These methods involve using lasers to hit the drone, using nets to catch drones, training hawks to take drones down or using projectile weapons to bring down the drones. Soft kill solutions on the other hand, focus on disabling the drone threat without causing physical harm to it. These methods also divide into 2 main categories, jamming and spoofing. Jamming focuses on jamming communication either between the GPS signal the drone receives to the drone, or by jamming communications from the controller of the drone to the drone. Spoofing on the other hand, focuses on generating false information to mislead the drone, faking either the controls or the GPS signals.

While there are many kinds of soft kill solutions, they all share collective pros over using hard kill solutions. Firstly, utilizing soft kill solutions allows for an opportunity to reverse engineer the drone. Because soft kill solutions are not kinetic solutions, they do not deal any damage to the drone itself, allowing for the defender to capture the drone intact. This, in turn, allows the defender to study and reverse engineer the drone. Reverse engineering the drone allows for optimizing the defense strategy against those drone types, by learning what makes them tick.

Similarly to the last point, another advantage of using soft kill methods is the ability to collect evidence. Using hard kill solutions often results in the destruction of the drone, especially when it comes to projectile based takedowns. The physical harm caused to the drone by hard kill methods could destroy any evidence the drone was carrying along with it. While using soft kill solutions however, evidence can still be extracted from the drone. Facts such as what kind of drone was used, what modifications were made to it, how was the drone controlled or who controlled it- all pieces of information that can be harvested from a surviving drone.

In general, soft kill solutions allow for a far more controlled form of defeat. Jamming or spoofing a drone allows it to either land safely, or cause it to turn around/ change its navigation course. Soft kill methods offer far more control in the manner of defeating the drone. In the case of hard kill methods, the opportunity for control is lacking. If a drone is shot down, there is no control where it will land. A hawk trained to capture drones is far less obedient than a drone who’s controls you hijacked. Soft kill solutions allow a more controlled response, rather than the chaos that follows a hard kill take down.

Furthermore, the controlled defeat soft kill solutions offer drastically reduce the risk of collateral damage while taking the drone down. In the case of shooting down a drone, there’s no control of where it crashes. Drones falling down from the skies can still cause damage upon impact with the ground. Hard kill methods cause irreversible damage to the drone, meaning they are dangerous to use in any case of possible friendly drones. In some cases you might not want to destroy any incoming drones, but simply keep them out of a certain parameter. Soft kill solutions are perfect for instances such as these.

The advantages of soft kill solutions don’t stop at effects on the drone, however. Soft kill solutions operate with far more ease. With an understandable and accessible user interface, it is a lot simpler to use these methods than having to train a hawk to capture drones, having to aim a weapon at drones (or construct a system capable of autonomous aim), or successfully capture a drone with a net.

Ring C-UAS is an example of one such soft kill solution. Ring is a GPS spoofing based counter drone solution, meaning it uses false GNSS signals to disrupt the drones genuine navigation. This allows to stop drones from entering forbidden areas.

Ring C-UAS is a mobile solution, roughly the size of a briefcase. It has a fast set up, intuitive interface, and has been tested in action.


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