All About The Drone Killer: How They Work and If They Are Legal

All About The Drone Killer
Written by Jack Brown

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There are more than 1.7 million drones in the United States that the Federal Aviation Administration has registered. While drones are amazing and revolutionary, many use them for malicious purposes. With many people paranoid about their privacy and security, drone killers are being developed at a rapid rate.

Also known as drone jammers, a drone killer is a device that is designed to disable a drone from operating. A drone jammer can also be used to prevent a rogue drone from entering an area that is restricted. Here you’ll learn everything there is to know about these devices.

Why Is A Drone Killer Such A Necessary Invention?

Ever since the development of drone technology, there have been many who have started to misuse it liberally for their own reasons. Despite regulatory efforts by the FAA, many users continue to take advantage of their drones and use them maliciously or in out of bounds areas.

All About The Drone Killer

In fact, it will probably shock you how devastating drones can be if they are placed in the wrong hands. There have been reports of drones interfering with emergency response operations, thus endangering the lives of many. Drones fitted with cameras have also been used to spy on people.

In 2015, a rogue drone made its way into the lawn of the White House itself, which is one of the strictest “no-drone” zones in the country. Despite the pilot swearing that he had lost control of the device, this event showed security experts how drones could deal massive damage.

So, in short, it became necessary to develop technology that could be used to disable a rogue or illicit drone in case of an emergency. Since private citizens and national security are on the line, most people think that drone killers are a great accountability system for keeping drones in check.

Understanding the Exact Functions of a Drone Jammer

While real guns and bullets can be used to shoot projectiles at drones to disable them, it is not the most reliable method. Drones can fly out of the gun range, and an exceptional aim is needed for this.

It is also not safe to shoot a gun because the bullet can ricochet and endanger people’s lives. The drone jammer is a safer alternative – it is a device that emits a specific band of electromagnetic waves. The frequency that is emitted is the same one used by the drone.

The drone does not act on its own – it is controlled via a computer or a remote from a different location. Most recreational drones make use of 2.4 or 5.8 GHz frequencies to stay in contact with the controller. Therefore, the jammer emits the same frequency as the drone to cause confusion.

The signal that is sent by the jammer overrides the communications and signals sent by the drone pilot to the drone. In general, when this is done – the drone immediately switches to its “Return Home” function. This is a helpful strategy that helps to identify the location of the pilot.

A drone killer is usually placed around the perimeter of restricted areas such as military bases, research stations, power plants, etc. If a rogue drone manages to enter the restricted airspace, a jamming signal is shot at them. This scrambles the drone’s directions, and it is forced to return home to its pilot.

While a drone jamming set is a bulky and expensive set of parts, there are handheld drone killers available. These devices resemble guns and can be used to disable drones ASAP. Some devices have functions that allow the jammer to disable the drone and force it to land.

The Legality of Drone Jammers In The United States

While drone jammers might seem like a ‘cool thing’ for a private citizen to have, it is actually illegal to possess one. Only US military and law enforcement branches can legally purchase and use drone jammers. It is illegal under the Federal Communications Act of 1934.

Using drone jammers to disrupt drones is like using similar technology to scramble phone signals, which is also illegal under the same Communications Act. All manufacturers and sellers of drone killers have to work under the watchful eye of the federal government.

According to rules established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it is illegal to operate jamming technology in the US unless used by law enforcement personnel. Tactical drone killers may only be owned and used by US law enforcement personnel – and that too only happens under some special circumstances.

Another interesting fact is that the FAA treats drones as aircraft, even if they are toys or intended for recreational use. Using a drone jammer to disable a drone falls under “destruction of aircraft.” Some experts say that this will open someone up to prosecution for indulging in “hacking.”

Even if you are a civilian who is worried about the protection and privacy of your property, there are many pitfalls and subtleties involved. There is a large probability that you won’t receive permission from the federal government to purchase and use a jammer on your property.

Possibility of Civil Damages Caused By A Drone Killer

A drone killer can also lead to unforeseen circumstances – such as the drone losing control and then causing injury to someone’s property or health. While using a drone jammer, there is a lot of potential liability involved in the deal.

This is the primary reason why even large companies and businesses don’t get permission from the federal government to install their signal jamming systems. Even if the jammer is legal to the federal government, the company would still be vulnerable to financial damage through a general liability lawsuit.

Why Drone Jammer Technology Has Not Been Perfected Yet

A physical projectile is largely accurate – especially in the hands of a trained expert. However, the same cannot be said for drone killer technology. EM waves are highly inaccurate and can lead to a lot of collateral damage as well.

The operator of the drone jammer has to be cautious while focusing EM waves on the drone in question. Drones may be small, but they are really fast and can be maneuvered flexibly in the hands of a skilled pilot. This increases the chances of incurring heavy collateral damage.

Experienced drone pilots can also take certain evasive measures to ensure that their drone is not jammed or killed by someone. This would lead to a messy situation – and it would most certainly lead to collateral damage. Property damage should be the least of your worries anyway.

The Damage Will Depend Upon The Setting of the Drone

In an unpopulated area like a farm, the amount of collateral damage would be minimal. But the effects of a drone jammer would be astronomical if used in a highly populated and dense area like an airport.

In airports and air bases, the planes are constantly communicating with their control towers by using a particular radio frequency channel. If your rogue drone jammer interferes with the communication between planes and control, there can be serious consequences. The same is true for inter-city highways as well.

In fact, the risk of drone jammer misuse heavily outweighs the risk of potential misuse of a drone. This is the line of thought that has prompted the federal government to regulate the production and sale of drone killers. Now, they can only be legally used by trained professionals.

Drone Jammers Are Also Highly Expensive

To deter the general public from purchasing killers, a handheld drone killer’s price is quite high. The price is so high that one might call it “prohibitively expensive.” Finding a manufacturer that is willing to sell one is also very hard.

Private companies have used drone jammers only after taking ‘express permission’ from the FCC, FAA, and the federal government. One non-governmental event where drone jammers were used was the NFL Super Bowl – because of the large number of people in attendance at the anticipated football finals.

If you are a drone pilot, then you don’t need to worry about having your drone damaged by drone killers. If you wilfully fly your drone into a military base or some sort of high-profile event such as the Super Bowl, only then might you need to be worried.

Summing Up Drone and Anti Drone Opinions

Drone technology has become controversial, and many people have denounced drones for infringing the privacy of private citizens. However, anti-drone technology is more controversial than drone technology ever could be. 

As the risk of collateral damage is high, this is natural. If you are interested in buying a drone killer for personal use, then you can give up on that idea right away. If you’re a pilot worried about drone killers, you need not fear their strike because you’ll only be at risk if you wilfully pilot your drone into some restricted area.


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About the author

Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.