The FIFA World Cup’s proposed location is novel in so many ways and it is the first time the World Cup will be hosted in the Persian Gulf. However, considering the region’s volatility, it has also raised some security challenges as Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s conflict rage on one side. Additionally, Qatar itself is not entirely free from security-related controversy. The region had once been accused of funding terrorism, although the country has continued to deny the accusation.
Perhaps in a bid to shore up public confidence, Qatar announced plans to utilize drones and on-site physical manpower to tackle security challenges that may arise at the World Cup.
The Drone Problem
The threat from drones operated by terrorists has increased in recent times. This is tied to how accessible drone technology has become, such that terrorists can and do have access to it. Also, theoretically, terrorists will find it easy to deploy drones to locations they may be unable to enter physically. The carnage from any such drone deployment might still be on the same scale as a physical terrorist attack.
There was an unsuccessful suicide attack at a stadium in France in 2015 during a friendly match between France and Germany. Drone technology was rumoured to have been employed in that instance.
The Technology of the Net-firing Drones
The counter drones, dubbed DroneHunters, will be provided by Fortem Technologies, having received authorization from the Qatar Ministry of Interior. Fortem has already provided radars distributed at various locations in the stadium used for the matches. This will give a complete picture of the airspace, making it easy to detect targets. The counter drones will operate away from the venues, so they don’t interrupt the flow of the games.
New product alert! Testing out the Fortem Drogue Chute™ on larger fixed wing targets. This particular target has a 9 ft. wingspan, and a 25lbs take off weight, (similar to Russian Orlan 10). #newproduct #chute #drones #dronetechnology pic.twitter.com/qdjoyNeq3h
— Fortem Technologies (@FortemTech) June 13, 2022
The mechanisms employed by the firms will be in two phases. For small drones, the counter drones will fire nets at them, carrying the now-captured drones to a safe location where they would be disabled.
This will not work precisely in the same way for larger drones. For those, a net will also be shot at them. But the net will be connected to a parachute, forcing the drones onto the ground. The drones have been successfully deployed at various security sites in the world.
Apart from the drone technology provided by Fortem, it appears there may be other alternatives to bringing down enemy drones. Intercepting electronic signals from enemy drones is one such mode. However, this may not be as effective as drone-on-drone counterattacks. This is because some of the attacking drones may be pre-programmed, making it almost near-possible for detection. Timothy Bean, Chief Executive Officer of Fortem, captures it succinctly when he says, “Terrorists don’t show up in your parking lot with a joystick. These drones are programmed […], so they can’t be jammed.”
In addition, nets and counter drones are relatively safer and appear to be more efficient. The World Cup projects that thousands of fans will be in the stadiums anytime during the matches. Counter-drones reduce the possibility of injuries occurring.
The measure to attack enemy drones may be, at best, a temporary measure. Countermeasures such as this one employed by the Qatar authorities will make it harder for drone-sponsored attacks. However, it may be challenging to stop speeding drones. Additionally, swarms of multiple attacking drones might be difficult to counter.
As the world looks forward to an exciting time at the World Cup, hopefully, Fortem’s counter drones will be sufficient to keep both spectators and athletes safe.