Choosing a drone detection radar isn’t an easy decision. There are so many solutions on the market and, no matter which one you choose, there’s almost always a trade-off.
Drone detection systems that promise superior range are usually big, bulky, and expensive. The smaller, more compact systems on the other end of the scale tend to compromise on coverage. How do you find the one that’s right for you?
A good starting point is to understand what range means in the context of drone detection. There are three things, in particular, that you should know:
- Detection range and classification range aren’t the same
- 3D coverage is the key to effective drone detection
- Cost and range go hand-in-hand
Drone Detection Range and Drone Classification Range Aren’t the Same
When people talk about range in connection with drone radars, they often focus on instrumented or detection range. But this only tells you the maximum distance your system can identify objects.
The ability to detect objects within your airspace is of limited value on its own. What really matters is classification range. This is the maximum distance that a radar system can distinguish between drones and other small, fast-moving objects, like birds.
Effective classification range provides ground teams with the data they need to understand the nature and severity of the approaching threat. Drones come in many shapes and sizes, so your radar must be able to:
- Locate and track individual units in a drone swarm
- Detect hovering drones
- Identify autonomous drones
A drone radar with superior classification range provides a vital early warning system. It reduces operator workload, false alarms, and confusion. This gives ground teams more time to focus on developing an effective and proportionate response to airborne threats.
3D Coverage is the Key to Effective Drone Classification Range and Detection
Current FAA and EU legislation restricts commercial drones to a maximum altitude of 400 feet (120 metres) to protect piloted aircraft – most activity takes place at 500 feet or higher. The problem for airports and military airbases is that most drones can comfortably exceed this limit and simply come in over the top of traditional radar systems.
To secure your airspace against this eventuality, you need a system that provides full position tracking and 360° dome coverage. This enables you to locate the exact position of drones in three-dimensional space. You can also sync your drone detection radar to weapon systems, cameras, and other sensors to receive instant notifications of approaching objects, so you can take swift and decisive action.
Cost and Drone Classification Range go Hand-in-hand
In the world of drone radar, range comes at a premium. Doubling the detection range of a system will often quadruple the price. And even if a solution promises the unparalleled range you want, you’ll struggle to find one that can quickly and accurately classify airborne threats. Most military-grade systems don’t have such capabilities.
The most cost-effective solution is to create an integrated network composed of multiple units. This gives you a single, unambiguous picture of your surroundings so you can detect and monitor drones from any height or direction.
Drone Radar is Your First Line of Defence
Drones pose a very real threat to civil and military aviation. In 2018, researchers from the University of Dayton released a video that shows just how much damage even a small drone can do to a commercial aircraft travelling at high approach speeds. And as they become more ubiquitous, we’ll start to see more collisions like this in the real world – not just in the lab.
When the stakes are this high, every second counts. You need a drone detection radar that integrates seamlessly with your other security and control systems to provide the full 360° coverage, simultaneous tracking, and automatic classification necessary to protect your airspace against an evolving threat.