Drone Use Policy: Need to further tighten it

By: |
June 28, 2021 6:32 PM

Tightened regulations are required to create deterrence for the rogue drones. As the current rules are sufficient to get information into the system about drones from the manufacturer or importer to end users.

This prevents the drones without the necessary permit from taking off. (Representative image)

India has 15,106.7 km of land border and a coastline of 7,516.6 km including island territories. Securing the country’s borders against interests that are hostile to the country and putting in place the systems that can interdict such elements while facilitating legitimate trade and commerce are among the principal objectives of border management in India.

In the backdrop of the drone attack at the Jammu Air Force Station on Sunday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Home Affairs is expected to review the existing regulations related to the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) more stringent. According to sources, there is now an urgent requirement to address the ambiguity about the launching of the drones.

Why?

Tightened regulations are required to create deterrence for the rogue drones. As the current rules are sufficient to get information into the system about drones from the manufacturer or importer to end users.

Following drone attacks on two major Saudi Arabian oil installations, in 2019 the government had expedited the process to come out with guidelines to counter rogue drones.

Brought out by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the guidelines were based on the out of a committee which was chaired by the Director General of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and comprising Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), National Security Guard (NSG), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Intelligence Bureau and Airports Authority of India (AAI).

As per the guidelines to counter rogue drones depending on the vitality of assets being protected — the rules called for deployment of a model that consists of primary and passive detection means. This includes radio frequency (RF) detectors, electro-optical and infrared cameras, and radars. And, also, drone catching nets, GPS Spoofers, lasers and soft and hard kill measures like RF Jammers.

According to the committee report, small drones have been proliferating in the military domain “at a rate that has alarmed battlefield commanders and planners alike”.

And in some incidents, these small drones have been improvised to carry explosive ordnance and have been converted into lethal guided missiles.

The report has also suggested a coordinated approach to counter the rogue drones and for this a steering committee needs to be set up. This committee will be chaired by a representative of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and there will be representatives from DGCA, DRDO, IB, AAI, NSG, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), State police departments, and National Technical Research Organisation.

The DGCA already has regulations for civilian use of drones in place which includes mandating the no-permission, no-takeoff (NPNT) regulations for drones that prescribe a built-in firewall. This prevents the drones without the necessary permit from taking off.

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