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In 2016, we wrote about terrorist drone use because it has been a driving force for us to save lives with our Patented UAV Defense System (U.S. Patent Number 11022407), so that manned and unmanned aircraft and drones can share airspace safely in an environment where all aircraft, drones and their operators are identified and authorized to fly and where law enforcement has control over airspaces and aircraft.  At the core of our innovation – what keeps us up at night – are the events that occurred on 9/11 and the comments of the 9/11 Commission, which mentioned that our government had credible information of an imminent attack using aircraft and essentially ignored it, believing that such an attack would not happen. The 9/11 Commission Report mentions, “The 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management.”

"The 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management."

The 9/11 CommissionThe 9/11 Commission Report

Most disturbing to us has been the failure of imagination, which during 9/11 cost the lives of 2,966 people and led to a war that has cost the lives of nearly half a million people and has caused the evolution of various terrorist groups worldwide.  All of this activity combined with the ease of acquiring inexpensive materials has led to increased drone use stemming from 2009 when Hezbollah attacked and brought down Israeli drones. From there the various terrorist groups, including ISIS, learn and share information to build and experiment with their own drones.

In 2016, the Pentagon asked for an additional 20 Million to address the terrorist drone threat, in addition to the $189.7 Million that had already been allocated for anti-terrorist activities. In addition to reconnaissance, the Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO) spokesman David Small was quoted in a Defense News article as saying the drone threat included drones weaponized with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Not surprisingly, in the past year, we have seen an increase in SBIR and DARPA requests for proposals and for information about technologies that the military can put to work to defend against rogue and terrorist drones. At AUVSI’s Xponential conference in May, The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, announced a Request for Information to solicit proposals for a global unmanned traffic management (UTM) framework.

While the looming terrorist drone threat evolves quickly, the wheels of government continue to slowly grind away. The FAA has recently begun conducting meetings about how to standardize a drone tracking and identification system with 70 representatives from the drone industry while researching and experimenting with ideas for a system that it could conceivably roll out years from now, in 2025.  NASA has only recently contracted three private companies to begin the research process for a drone traffic management system.

Defending against terrorists can’t be put off for tomorrow, or until a decision has been made by committee. We must protect our skies, our aircraft, our infrastructure and our people now.

Shana Whitmarsh

Author Shana Whitmarsh

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