me November 8, 2021 7:09 AM

we also have military specialized in anti-drones.
a tv program here in italy showed them and their capabilities in tv and they have a portable jammer to block signal and geolocalize the transmitter, it’s also possible to destroy the drone.

Jim Goodwin November 8, 2021 8:03 AM

I think we need to distinguish between unmanned remote controlled aircraft (RC) and autonomous aircraft (drone).

A signal jammer isn’t going to help against an autonomous aircraft.

I’d be surprised if RC craft hadn’t been tried before. Quadcopter vs plane is a distinction without a difference.

Clive Robinson November 8, 2021 8:22 AM

@ me, ALL,

we also have military specialized in anti-drones.

Do not fall for the “hype” anti-drone technology is very much a joke currently.

I’ve done a walk through on why RF jammers are at best more of a last resort than crossing your fingers when you do not have advanced intel.

First of a lot of drones when they loose control go into a “short path flight” back towards what they think is their “start point”. It takes no great brains to realise that if you change the real start point co-ordinates for the attack point co-ordinates you know where the drone is going to try and land at…

Secondly you can only jam a frequency successfully in two ways,

1, Know the actual frequency
2, Put kilowatts of power up.

Radio receivers work on “energy in a bandwidth” to control RC aircraft back in the 1970’s you could use as little as 1kHz bandwidth at the upper end of the HF band. That technology still works today.

Now if you need to jam from 1MHz to more than 6GHz to jam you would effectively need more than 6,000,000,000/1,000, more than 6 million times the power at the drone mid point with respect to the operator who could without much difficulty push 100watts into an antenna that makes it directional and more like 1kW is being used.

What most of these “drone-jamers” do is work on “known control frequencies” that it is “assumed” an attacker will use.

Changing the frequency to be well out of any likely band is not that difficult…

Slightly less easy is changing the way the data is transmitted from the operator to the drone. One trick the jammer designers rely on is recognising the data format being used and try to get a jamming margin by faking the control data rather than jam it.

I could go on the list is long with tricks that an attacker could use such as using a relay drone, using an an antenna with a cardiod pattern with the deep null facing forwards so giving even more advantage against a jammer (both of which work well).

The simple fact is you have a variation of a “smart weapon” mortar attack, and the only real defence against that is “duck and cover”.

The thing about technology as a weapon of war is you obly have a short time scale advantage. Once a potential opponent knows the technology works they can “build there own” usually at a lot lower cost and faster pace…


“Technology does not solve societal issues”.

Clive Robinson November 8, 2021 8:35 AM

@ Bruce, ALL,

Since you once invented the “ass bomb” a little thought for you.

You can get comercial drones that can lift 5kg of mass, for a couple of thousand dollars.

What do you know about the M72 LAWS 66mm anti tank rocket launcher?

It weighs about half that weight, and has a range of 200meters and if close up will make a hole in bullet proof glass and armour plate. They can be purchased on the black market for a very small sum of money.

The thing is that, if you are running a “suicide drone” anyway, you can attach a rocket launcher and the drone will probably hold together long enough for the rocket to have cleared it…

Any one want to take a guess on how long before someone makes something along those lines?

AnarchnoHouseRaider November 8, 2021 9:48 AM

Software: Ardupilot (Flight Paths)

Cheap 1Wing DIY Plane
1 Motor and
Motor Controller $12.50
Foam $3.00
Propellers $1.00
Battery $5.25
Flight Controller $50.00
RC Transmiter $12.00

The above is your cheap swarm and your learning drone. No payload.

1. Multirotors: Stability for aiming, no range.
2. Planes/Boats/Subs: Range, Speed, unstable

1. Bombs
2. Class IV laser (blinding crowds)
4. Animals (small)

1. Kinetic (go high/quiet)
2. Laser (lasers cost money, pick low priority targets)
3. Supply chain surveillance (proxy buyers of drone parts)
4. Interference of GPS (optical flow sensors, multiple bands of GPS, timeToDetonate/Vector based navigation, airspeed sensors, LIDAR)

1. Prebuilt drones off of DNM built for murder.
2. Input(target, time, XMR wallet) output strike. Drone strike as a service.
3. Blinding as crime/revenge becoming as common as acid attacks. Invest in Braille technologies and related things.
4. Multilanguage Zine for drone use.

Freezing_in_Brazil November 8, 2021 9:52 AM

When you start to play with giant scale [1/3] airmodels [as in 1980] this threat becomes immediately clear. In fact I`m suprised it took so long…

Ted November 8, 2021 10:11 AM

@ AnarchnoHouseRaider

Munitions: … 4. Animals (small)

Am I understanding that right?

I read something once about bats being researched to deliver delayed-incendiary devices to Japanese cities during WWII.

I think this was scrapped after several mishaps including the the bats accidentally setting fire to an army airbase.

I think the atom bomb was pursued instead.

AnarchnoHouseRaider November 8, 2021 10:30 AM

Animals of interest: Poisonous, Stinging, Ecologically problematic, Sick animals with stuff that travels to humans, intimidation (mafia dropping 1 cricket every night on my house), and more.

Point 4 is mediocre. Three point list feels small.

Freezing_in_Brazil November 8, 2021 1:14 PM

Re primitive bio weopons

Of course everybody is aware of that, though I don t have an authoritative source right now, but allow me point out that people used to employ trebuchets to throw plague-infected corpses into castles back in the 14th century. Drones offer a revival opportunity to that old tradition.

John November 8, 2021 3:01 PM


Most informative.

Eye for an Eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Glad I discovered an answer to that that works for me. Try to do something nice for someone else without getting caught!

What a way to live! Glad I live in America.


echo November 8, 2021 3:37 PM

In some respects “killer drones” are a threat. In other ways they are laughable and not remotely a threat because they add little which is new.

People who know more about this than I do have their survellience networks and special forces expertise. ANyoe with a clue working in both these domains will not be screaming about their insights and “dry runs” and mitigations on the front page. This covers procurement and close protection… Then there is the almost always overlooked area of public policy especially civil structures, and social and economic policy. Old school policing, and prison regimes, and social workers also play a role at least as far as dealing with the conditions which lead to the phenomena of “killer drones” being expressed and putting peoples lives on a more positive path. Yes, you can find all of this at the legal level and in policy papers all with the word “security” in the title.

With regard to FOI and media coverage some content will inevitably fall under “D notice” territory. This is not to pursue a censorship policy or exclude the public from democracy but to head off giving the wrong kind of people bright ideas or mitigate copycat incidents.

With regard to all of the aboe I feel the solution to a fair number of questions people may have is fixed by having strong human rights law at the constitutional level. Foreign policy and international governance are not many steps behind.

As happens often I feel too many people are trying to sound clever and have the wrong focus.

Clive Robinson November 8, 2021 4:44 PM

@ echo,

As happens often I feel too many people are trying to sound clever and have the wrong focus.

To quote an old saying,

“One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

As I keep saying,

“Technology does not solve societal issues”.

And the big problem we currently have that I hope none here have missed,

“Individual Rights-v-Sociatal Responsabilities”

But the genie is out of the bottle as far as drones are concerned, the likes of the US have sent their big brother UAV’s in with hellfire missiles and killed many innocent people for no reason other thanfrom the US President down the chain of command they were either stupid or did not care what the results were going to be.

Part of that “dividend” is we don’t have to give people ideas, they have already had them. All we are starting to see is the game of “catch-up” and technology has made it cheap oh so cheap…

Back when 9/11 happened, I pointed out that those that had flown the aircraft had done nothing more than,

“Take US technology and turn it around and make weapons out of it”

The same is happening two decades on with drone technology, and as with turning passenger aircraft into guided missiles there is very little that can be done to stop it, the gebie is out the bottle, and it’s not going back.

It’s foolish to think if we don’t talk about it, it won’t happen, because well a hellfire from a US UAV directed at a mobile phone is a fairly powerfull message that the MSM foolishly agrandised ove the past decade or so.

The US used a drone to kill an Iranian Diplomat on a peace mission in Iraq…

Now the Iraq Primeminister gets attacked in his own home by a drone alegedly by Iranian backed political parties…

Some might say “What do you think was going to happen?”.

Me I fully expect it to continue and get worse a lot worse…

Like others I expected RC Planes for the past couple of years, not quad-copters. You can build an RC Plane at home with a 30lb (14Kg) payload with little dificulty, you could also fly it up to 10,000ft (~2miles high) and bring it down on a near vertical balistic path which no radio jamming or the like would stop it reaching it’s target…

The Tamil Tigers started to investigate this back in 2007-9 along with their own little airforce (Air Tigers)

Winter November 9, 2021 1:40 AM

“Take US technology and turn it around and make weapons out of it”

That is a good summary of US foreign policies. From mujaheddin to Al Qaida and 9/11, from Saudis to IS, from giving Pakistan a nuclear bomb against India, to nuclear bombs ending up in Iran and North Korea.

All of America’s curses have been self-inflicted.

me November 9, 2021 8:11 AM

I was a bit skeptik when i saw th “anti drone military” as someone who studied telecommunication and radio transmission at school i was thinking: what if one change the radio frequency to something not-standard or use multiple transmitters and receivers at multiple frequency?
They mentioned that some drones return to the start path when signal is lost and they suggested that it was positive because it allows to track the attacker but i don’t think so…

They may have some succes by spoofing gps signal and make it go wherever you want but i don’t think that its viable too.

The most easy cheap and effective thing is probably a auto-aim weapon that shot at the drone a normal bullet destroying it.

lurker November 9, 2021 10:42 AM

Even in the 23d century drones that implant personal transporter beacons are still susceptible to phasor hand guns. [Star Trek: Insurrection]

Clive Robinson November 10, 2021 4:37 AM

@ Winter,

Caesar build his political career and imperatorship on debt and corruption.

What was that sating about the turning of the wheel of history,

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”…

I guess proving the point in a way of why hierarchies can be not the actual “root of all evil”, but the soil in which it grows and enriches it.

MarkH November 10, 2021 10:48 AM


All of the political comments above are completely off-topic.


According to wikipedia, remotely piloted killer aircraft date from 1917 (a British project, as it happens).

As a matter of security technology, it was inevitable that the proliferation of inexpensive remotely-piloted and/or autonomous aircraft would make their exploitation as weapons available to an enormously expanding number of groups and individuals.

The precedents of military use of extremely different uninhabited aircraft was not a necessary (or in my estimation, even relevant) factor in this development.

MarkH November 10, 2021 10:54 AM

The etymology of “assassin” dates to the 11th century, from a group methodically applying political murder — in the Islamic middle east. The tactic of political murder is presumably many centuries older than that.


The present distribution of violence against persons has surely been influenced by numerous state policies concerning security and foreign relations, made by dozens of states.

How the incidence of violence — including war casualties, which have decreased enormously since the first half of the 20th century — might have developed under different policies is an analytic question for which (a) no definitive answer is possible, and (b) no sufficiently informed discussion is imaginable in this forum.

Winter November 10, 2021 11:20 AM

“The etymology of “assassin” dates to the 11th century, from a group methodically applying political murder ”

It’s commonly thought that assassin has its roots in the word hashāshīn (Arabic: حشاشين transliterated: ḥashāshīn), which means “users of hashish.” However, the etymology is unclear, and the evolution of the word assassin may be due to mispronunciations of several similar Arabic words.

ht tps://

Basically, the “Old Man in the Mountains” lead a Shia sect of suicide assassins who, according to myth, were drugged with hashish to give them a view of paradise before they went on their mission.

Ted November 10, 2021 2:53 PM


Re: Incidents of violence under different policies

I think maybe you had a question that was meant to be interesting in its own regard, even if no answer would present itself here.

I know you were particularly asking about war violence, but that got me thinking about violence in general and some science meme I saw:

I like that the venus fly trap could get energy from the sun but chooses violence.

First off, this is a little twisted and second off it’s a little wrong because the plant actually needs nutrients from bugs that aren’t available in less nutrient-rich soils.

It makes me wonder if some incidents of violence have decreased due to a greater abundance of resources or at least a greater ability to harvest resources from what is available.

MarkH November 10, 2021 3:20 PM


Your reply is thoughtful, as per your custom. The message I hoped to convey is that political pet theories of “‘oo were the blighters wot begun it” won’t meaningfully illuminate the topic.

Ted November 10, 2021 5:18 PM


“‘oo were the blighters wot begun it”

Is this from a secret language that only you and monsignor Clive know? 😄 Something about is quite funny, but I can’t place it.

MarkH November 10, 2021 5:51 PM

@Clive, All:

Clive gets to the essence, by discussing economics and asymmetric conflict.

As I just noted, use of uninhabited powered aircraft to kill adversaries is already more than a century old. What is novel about recent attacks — using very small aircraft designed for consumer and commercial markets — is that the cost is so low.

Depending on applied standards and exercise of judgment, asymmetric warfare is at least a few centuries old, if not some multiple of that. It seems to me that technological development has had the effect of magnifying the capacity of weaker adversaries to inflict painful damage against their stronger opponents.

What has been done rather ineffectually by a few pioneering weaponizers of these little machines, will soon be accomplished with much greater effect by those who study these experiments and learn from them.

MarkH November 10, 2021 5:52 PM


Something about is quite funny, but I can’t place it.

I’ll wager ‘enry ‘iggins would know!

echo November 10, 2021 6:06 PM

This is a rigged forum. Clive isn’t right about everything nor does he deserve the credit for everything. He’s just getting a free pass because he’s the Phantom Deleter’s favourite.

I haven’t said a single thing which isn’t backed by policy or research yet that goes walkies.

It also seems the Phantom Deleter doesn’t want a forensic examination of the drone threat not because of what was said but who said it. That’s a clear bias when Clive puts on a big act of “forensic analysis” on one had yet in other topics is slagging off forensics as magical thinking.

I call the whole thing BS.

JonKnowsNothing November 10, 2021 7:16 PM

@Clive, @All

There are 2 other aspects of attack-drones: the micro-sparrows and the micro or macro swarms.

The micro-sparrows are less than a palm width and even smaller. Some humming bird size and have been used in surveillance recon situations.

The others are the linked swarm-drones where they cross-coordinate and cross-reference each other for massed attacks.

Years back, there was a company in Spain (iircbadly) that made camo for the bigger drones. They could make it look like any of the larger birds: hawks, seagulls, etc and from the marketing-slime, the differences between real hawks and camo-drone-hawks were not detectable via normal viewing. This allowed the drone to soar for a long time over a target area.

It’s a bit harder to camo one of the Predator style drones, so now they use relay surveillance and long distance launches, which is why the US cannot tell a Wedding from a Barn Dance.

Clive Robinson November 10, 2021 7:41 PM


Is this from a secret language that only you and monsignor Clive know?

I hope not.

“oo were the blighters wot begun it”

The word “blighters” is around a century old and can be found in “Biggles Books” where “Ginger” would use it impressively about an advesary’s forces.

The “oo” and “wot” go back atleast a half century earlier than that to the “penny dreadfuls” with stories of “murder most foul” and similar, where the expression “Twas t’buttler wot dunit” came from a young Cockny maids mouth to a stalwart detective accompanied by a beefy sergeant or constable. Pure fiction of course but it sold in vast quantaties.

What @MarkH is taking a slight side swipe at is the “British Inventive Spirit” which arose. What made the Victorian era so great was the invention of “applied science” and “engineering” that turned the world from the use of unreliable wind, waves, muscle and brawn into the raw power that steam could give. Therby through “force multiplication” take craftwork from a room in an artisans home to vast edifices of brick and stone hoising hundreds of machines and where the mastery of iron led to steel in vast sizes unimaginable to a generation or two before. Thus wraught church like buildings that housed beam engines and pumps that made the works of Bazzlejet and others into workable and health bringing projects to bring clean water into London and taking the foul of the sewers out.

The epitome of such inventivness was the fanciful drawings of “Heath Robinson” machines,

That long pre-dated those of “Johnny come lately” Rube Goldberg.

Then of course there was Elizer Doolittle, lowely flower seller at Covent Garden and her screech that so “delightfully common” it attracted the attention Proffesor Henry Higgins, in “My Fair Lady” which is a film every one should see atleast once in their life. Based on Gearoge Berbard Shaw’s Pygmalion, that in turn was based in part on Greek Mythology. The male protagonist Profesor Henry Higgins was largly based on Henry Sweet Reader at Oxford Universiry (who it is said was not offered a chair because of his cantankerous nature). Sweet’s methods are still current used today and in there is an institution set up in his name that carries this forward.

Clive Robinson November 10, 2021 8:16 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing, ALL,

The others are the linked swarm-drones where they cross-coordinate and cross-reference each other for massed attacks.

I came across this idea some years back when I was looking into what some would call “smart dust surveillance nets” these days[1].

Ross Anderson from Cambridge labs did some interesting work on the bit that I’m most interested in which is secure ad-hoc / self organising / mesh networks in what is ostensibly a hostile operating environment. One such paper that although more than a decade and a half old is becoming highly relevant today,

[1] If you want to see something scary “pico-sats” these are about the size of a “coin cell” battery and about four times as thick.

All they effectively are are two solar cells a rechargable coin cell battery and a PCB which contains not just power/battery managment, CPU, sensors and a VHF or UHF transmitter and receiver that can communicate not just with other pico-sats but to Earth based stations and larger satellites in higher orbit…

The use of modern MEMS sensors make these little beasties decidedly scary.

Ted November 10, 2021 11:22 PM

@MarkH, Clive

I’ll wager ‘enry ‘iggins would know!

Oh so delightful! I just watched a few scenes of the movie and feel like such a ruffian compared to Henry Higgins. Clive, thank you for elucidating that for me. No doubt it’s a classic 🙂

Clive Robinson November 11, 2021 4:02 AM

@ echo,

This is a rigged forum. Clive isn’t right about everything nor does he deserve the credit for everything. He’s just getting a free pass because he’s the Phantom Deleter’s favourite.

A free pass… Then why did one of my posts get deleted just yesterday?

I haven’t said a single thing which isn’t backed by policy or research yet that goes walkies.

Funny thing I was kind of thinking that as well about my post. It was pointing out an article in the British Medical Journal(BMJ), the house journal of one of British Medical Association(BMA) and one of the most reputable journals there is for both policy and research. Unlike you I gave a link to the article so others could make their own judgment. But to use your vernacular “yet that goes walkies”, presumably by your “Phantom Deleter”…

So as it’s happened to other longterm posters as well, your accusation of “This is a rigged forum” sounds a little thin to be honest.

Perhaps it’s not who says, but what is said? Have you actually given that the consideration it is due”

Perhaps you should think about the notion of “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”… One thing that is not liked on this blog is “party politics” and similar, which you have a tendancy to decide is policy. To many it’s not the highly technical asspects of ICT security this blog was once talking about all the time. But times move and ICTsec due to the failings of it as an industry is not realy inovating, and many academic securiry papers are as I’ve noted “Cabbage re-boilers”.

Speaking of which much that you claim as original is not and you would know if you’d done any research by looking back on this blog, or in Cryptogram or other places.

A major failing of the ICTsec industry as I keep pointing out is,

“It does not learn even from it’s living history”

Which is what research “depth and breadth” is all about… and why I mention it a lot as well as calling “cabage re-boiling” what it is.

Something your “Clive isn’t right about everything nor does he deserve the credit for everything.” appears to be based on. As I said to you before “do your research present your findings in that light” if you indicate previous work it is considered good form and why papers have so many footnotes and citations, something mostly lacking in your postings.

But it’s not just research you appear to come up short in. Your understanding, reasoning, and even comprehension abilities with regards science can be quite alarming, especially when you say,

That’s a clear bias when Clive puts on a big act of “forensic analysis” on one had yet in other topics is slagging off forensics as magical thinking.

What I do is “analysis” plain and simple which is part of the scientific process. That is I take a set of information that is probative and I move it forward to indicate a possability, or make a hypothesis which because it IMPORTANTLY moves forward in time from “cause to effect, by testable methods” is open to anyone else to try and is stable in that it reduces to a provable conclusion.

Forensics does do this type of analysis and I’ve indicated that it does. However it also does the opposit which is try to go backwards in time from “effect to cause” that is neither stable or wise as it does not in any way come to A provable conclusion.

As an example of science,

If you take a quantaty of substance A that contains sodium atoms, and a quantuty of substance B that contains chlorine atoms and using a medium C apply methods M,N,O, and P you end up with a pure crystalline result of Sodium-Chloride or common salt.

The above is like a recipe for cooking a cake (and as I’ve said befor, eggs were our first standard measure and cooking our first scientific method and recipies the published papers, science came from the kitchen).

Now where forensics goes wrong is as follows,

I get given a crystaline substance, and I analyze it and find it is Sodium-Chloride. I know that it can be made by applying methods, M,N,O, and P to substances A,B, and C. I then write this in a report.

Do you see what is wrong with this?

Well even with A, B, and C, there are very many more methods than M,N,O, and P that will result in Sodium-Chloride crystals. Likewise there are way way more substances than A, B, and C. That is there are thousands of ways you can end up with crystalline Sodium-Chloride, probably more than any individual can have been told let alone recall and there may well yet be new ones to be discovered.

The report is not proof of anything other than questionable behaviour. It in no way meets the burden of proof of “beyond reasonable doubt”. Yet people go into courts all the time and do this. Look up convictions based on “pour patterns” where it was claimed that accelerants must have been used in fires, so it must be arson, so it must be a crime, so it must have been committed by some one. Guess what “Mr top of our list” it’s your unlucky day your going to jail”.

Then some one actually did some science, and showed that “pour patterns” were nothing of the sort, they were infact “puddling patterns” and happened when a solid subject to gravity became liquid and fell, then became vapour… Something that actually happens as part of any fire where say plastics are present, like as ceiling tiles, furniture, etc etc. They even happen with organic materials as well, even metals when they get hot enough melt and vapourize and leave behind puddling patterns.

So what happens to all those who went to jail due to “pour patterns” what do you say to the ones who finally get out? Or the relatives of those that have died in prison?

As an old saying has it “You can not unbake a cake”. Something you don’t appear to have got the hang of. Otherwise you could not have innocently made the statment you made.

Clive Robinson November 11, 2021 5:55 AM

@ Ted,

My Fair Lady is a classic in part because it representes the end of an era in society that had started in the 1950’s and peaked at the begining of the 1960s, to end in chaos that followed, Neil Armstrong putting his foot on the moon, being the end of America’s feel good about it’s self.

It contrasts with another earlier era changing film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s (that destroyed George Peppards film career, but gave us the A Team leader on television). A film which many think as the epitome of “chic style” is when viewed dispashionatly quite sordid. We are bedazzled by the glamour, but peel that thin veneer away and what is left, horrendous stereo types, where only the cat comes out as being suitable of sympathy.

If you ever see the stage play Pygmalian that My Fair Lady is based on, you will see it is a lot less misogynistic than the film.

Several improbable scenes were added and the ending changed in the film. The ending and it’s “A woman has her subserviant place” message is the opposite to the play and very definately “Done by US Studio hands” as they thought it was what would earn the money.

Other scenes are put in for “laughs” but have realy dark undertones running through them…

Such as Henry Higgins off hand psychological and physical abuse of Elizer. That is to force compliance to his wishes by not feeding her and worse carelessly stuffing her mouth with marbles and then when she swallows one just stuffs another in. Yes they are played for laughs and be cute cinimaticaly. But in reality what was the message the Studio Bosses were sending out to the public?

Nearly sixty years later this dark side of visual entertainment designed by some quite unsavory types for what they saw as normalised US male behaviour for entertainment can still shock. But worse as we are finding out it is still endemic in the US visual entertainment industry.

For all that it is a film to enjoy in many ways and if you ever get the chance to see it in a full screen cinema, I’d go for it as it is breath taking traditional cinetomography at it’s finest and where it sticks to Pygmalion it is very good and delightfully entertaining.

Winter November 11, 2021 7:42 AM

“My Fair Lady is a classic in part because it representes the end of an era in society that had started in the 1950’s and peaked at the begining of the 1960s, to end in chaos that followed, Neil Armstrong putting his foot on the moon, being the end of America’s feel good about it’s self.”

Funny, as the original, Pygmalion, represented the end of another era.

Note that Prof Higgins was modeled after a real linguist (phonetician), Daniel Jones from London.

Ted November 11, 2021 8:27 AM


Re: My Fair Lady

Mmm hmm. Yep. That was an awesome description. I jumped to the end of the film just to see how it all ended and wished for more than Henry Higgins asking Eliza to bring him his slippers. But I guess at that point at least she could talk quite well.

Some of the other scenes reminded me of sort-of-contentious personal interactions I’ve had in the past, and I think oh my ‘never again’. Who has the energy to be exhausted? Nonetheless, the scenes are quite visually rich.

My grandparents grew up in an earlier era and were nothing if not quite sincere friends. I wonder what they would think of the film?

Winter November 11, 2021 8:52 AM

@Ted, Clive
“Mmm hmm. Yep. That was an awesome description.” My Fair Lady.

Did you see “Educating Rita”? That is an “American” 1970s-ish version of Pygmalion.

Ted November 11, 2021 9:18 AM


Re: Educating Rita

A good British film! Gonna have to check out that one. Thanks Winter! Bet Clive knows about it. I feel guilty discussing films though. Any suggestions how I can tie these to security??

Clive Robinson November 11, 2021 5:40 PM

@ Bystander,

I was aware of what is probably now the Switchblade 600, when it was going into prototype development as it or something similar was covered in a “Defense Magazine”. But for the life of me could not remember the name, and was not aware it had gone into production.

It’s in part why I asked Bruce etc to consider the idea of sticking a cheap 66mm armour piercing rocket on a larger comercial drone. Yes it would be a bit “Heath Robinson” / “Rube Goldberg” of a device but not that difficult to construct in say a motorbike / car repair shop.

But whilst not as fast as the Switchblade and probably noisier, it has the advantage that if you do not fire the rocket you can bring the drone back and recharge it etc (so can have a much enlarged recon role). Something you can not do with the way more expensive Switchblade.

Interesting to note in the blurb about putting the Switchblade into what is effectively “nose down” ballistic flight path so you could use it as the equivalent of a “Smart Mortar round”.

Also the article indirectly indicates that a GPS Jammer might just ruin it’s day as might “lighting it up” with a modern high power semiconductor laser.

Electronic Warfare (EW) is rather more than a two way street so Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) becomes Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM) and so on. Each itteration getting considerably more expensive for a diminishing capability increase in each round.

At the end of the day any such capability depends not just on speed of deployment but speed to target such that the defenders are denied any response time. It’s possible to get a 44m/s or greater speed with commercial drones. Which means a “sit up and pounce” attack stratagy from less than 150m is likely to get inside an infantry or similar groups response time loop.

Major Variola November 12, 2021 6:41 PM

IIRC the fellow who went shooting up some gay bar in FLA (?) was blown up by a (probably suicidal 🙂 police robot carrying explosives in his arm. Greatly reduced risks to cops. I think the guy was holed up in a bathroom.

It was remote controlled, not autonomous, but I think that was the first robot “intentionally” killing a human.

Bystander November 13, 2021 12:38 PM


A noisy commercial drone is probably not the best tool for recon and the said laser or GPS Jammer would ruin its day as well. ECM would probably be more efficient against it as well.

What is your point?

Clive Robinson November 13, 2021 10:09 PM

@ Bystander,

What is your point?

I made several.

But if you want me to reiterate one,

It’s that as normal, technology has moved at a greater pace, than those who think themselves in positions of power –legislators, guard labour, etc– have realised and are now fairly belatedly finding themselves to be in a reactive rather than proactive position.

In short, “The genie is out of the bottle and it has sharp teeth”.

A noisy commercial drone is probably not the best tool for recon and the said laser or GPS Jammer would ruin its day as well. ECM would probably be more efficient against it as well.

A friend runs a business using commercial drones, and they realy are not as noisy as other aerial platforms. If one is on the ground behind a wall and you are in an open top vehicle you certainly will not hear it. Once it’s above 150m it has to be a very quiet day to hear it even in the countryside. Using one to inspect tall power pylons and Wind farms did not cause any noticable effect on livestock beneath them.

As I’ve noted above ECM to be effective has to be “intelligence led”. Changing the frequencies to be well away from “the usual ones” drones work on is fairly trivial for even engineering undergraduates. Having designed jammers and similar for Close Protection work and bomb disposal systems, I know just how ineffective they realy are, and how they can actually be a serious liability. After all you don’t want a drone with TDOA capability flying down your jamming beam…

But a jammer or other active ECM only works if there is a control or guidence signal to be jammed in some way, which need not be the case. Mobile phone electronics that can do facial recognition have sufficient computing power to optically recognise a target and remain locked to it. Even a $1 microcontroller can lock to a target that is being “painted” by a $5 IR laser driven by a TV Remote Control handset[1]. A back facing set of photo detectors on the drone can be used to decode a low power IR laser signal that is being used to control the drone[2] and there is little the target in front of the drone could do about it “safely”.

I won’t go into the tedious details but you can build your own drone electronics without that much difficulty, the electronics is not that hard to reverse engineer from an existing drone. Also there is near compleate basic software you can find on the web. And if you look into MEMS you will find GPS is not necessary for actually flying and course setting.

So the “technology lead” is effectively over for Military and Law enforcment, and their adversaries have an asymmetric advantage. That is the difference being the Mil/LEA will keep having to pay a high price, whilst their adversaries can pay a fraction the price for sufficiently similar or capable systems.

Thus the effect of economic asymmetric advantage has added to other asymmetric advantages that small groups have these days when not on their home ground.

[1] Back last century during “The Troubles” some of the bomber cells started to use 27MHz Radio Control equipment to set off what we now call IED’s. So foot patroles were issued with jamming equipment for the RC frequencies. In response one of the bomber cells used a couple of cheep plastic telescopes a Light Dependent Resistor and a flash gun from a camera to set off a car bomb… That was a third of a century ago think gow far things have come since then[2].

[2] You can find plans on the Internet from Ham Radio designers for optical data links that using parts you can get from the likes of Digi-Key will work upto several miles even on a bright summers day.

High power LEDS are better than lasers for a number of reasons,

I know one Ham who actually designs both LED and Laser optical systems and microwave links up above 70GHz for the “higher bands”, and chases record path lengths.

lurker November 14, 2021 12:00 AM

@Clive, All

… a couple of cheep plastic telescopes a Light Dependent Resistor and a flash gun from a camera to set off a car bomb.

Somewhat more than a third of a century ago there was the LiSpr.80 aka. LichtSprechgerät 80. The mechanical modulator may have been more reliable than electronics of the time. Add a black lined collimator tube and it’s virtually unjammable.

Bystander November 14, 2021 5:37 AM

@Clive, All

The arms race between drone operators and countermeasures is in full swing.

For RF link control, simply changing the frequency will no longer help as automated adaptive systems exist and may be a step further than you experienced. There is no 100% security of course, but there is more work needed to get around this. Systems which are advertised, work for commercial drones, but as the system can be configured and combined with Friend-Foe detection any non-friendly transmissions can be tackled.

Of course you can use dead-reckoning, light as communication medium to get around the jammers but the the drone still provides an optical – including IR – signature.
Detection and targeting systems exist for this.
Even if you cannot jam the optical link, optical sensors on the drone can still be blinded. Any electronics on the drone must be well designed and protected as a sufficiently strong radar beam can fry these.

Laser systems to down drones are still being tested and not widely deployed, but will be mobile.

The military may still prefer equipment developed their way, but the use of COTS devices/systems is becoming more and more common, so the gap you might perceive right now is narrowing quickly.

A price advantage will remain as it always was the case with improvised devices. It may become less extreme.

I agree that the foot soldier is and will remain in disadvantage against improvised drones. For mechanized units I expect this disadvantage to dwindle quickly.

I see this as momentary advantage, no reason to cry victory for either side.

Clive Robinson November 14, 2021 5:42 AM

@ lurker, ALL,

Add a black lined collimator tube and it’s virtually unjammable.

And “So simple to do”…

With a plus that it’s a comms link that is pre-teen “pocket money” cheep. Think toy binoculars and toilet roll tubes and mat black poster paint…

To say this very simple communications system has been giving “close protection” and similar personnel cold sweats for thirty years or more is not far off the mark.

With “hard line” comms they have a small chance of spotting the disturbances where the wires are hidden / camouflaged. But with a light beam there is nothing for them to see in between the operator and the IED as they approach it.

Also if the operators want to add “false trigger” prevention all they need to do is put an audio narrow band filter on the detector output and then feed that into an lossy integrator which drives a window comparator. You only need one of those 14pin Quad OpAmp packages and less than twenty resistors/capacitors etc, and a copy of the “Horowitz and Hill” book, for not just the circuits and formulars but real worked through examples,

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