Defending Against UAVs Operated by Non-State Actors
The author hopes to help the reader understand the potential impact of consumer UAVs in the hands of non-state actors as well as the technical and regulatory challenges present in the United States that we face so that they can make informed decisions about public policy choices, investments, and risk.
Our hypothesis is that Western nations are not prepared to defend civilian populations against the use of small UAVs by non-state actors. This can be proved false by:
- Identifying counter-UAV technology that can be deployed to effect a “win” against currently available UAVs that meet the UsUAS definition
- Identifying the regulations that allow the technology to be utilized within the borders of the United States and at sites not covered by “no fly zones”.
- Demonstrating that the solutions are capable of being deployed at sufficient scale to protect all possible targets, not just major events
The defenders are at a classical asymmetric warfare disadvantage – they need a nearly 100% success rate, and if they can demonstrate that success, even better. This is essentially an impossible victory condition to meet. If the scope is limited to critical infrastructure, and if the rules of engagement are adjusted, the odds increase dramatically for the defenders but are still daunting.
Attackers win if they can conduct a single terror attack using a UsUAS against any civilian target, one of thousands of Friday night high school football games for example.
A successful attack need not injure or kill civilians. It may not even make major headlines. It just needs to demonstrate enough capability to generate sufficient public outcry to slow consumer and commercial UAV sales and deployment. Lawmakers already show a great deal of interest in responding to requests for greater regulation and the industry has demonstrated little effective lobbying power to hold off these regulations. A notable hostile use of a consumer UAV could result in regulation that would have significant impact on the civilian industry predicted to be worth $2 billion by 2020.
Full text of my thesis is available here – David Kovar – GMAP 16 – Thesis
 B. I. Intelligence, 2016 Oct. 2, and 092 2, “THE DRONES REPORT: Market Forecasts, Regulatory Barriers, Top Vendors, and Leading Commercial Applications,” Business Insider, accessed February 15, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/2016-10-2-uav-or-commercial-drone-market-forecast-2016-9.