How To Detect A Drone - Various Drone Detection Methods

Aerial Armor

With the rise in popularity of commercially available drones, it's never been more critical to ensure your organization is safe from these unwanted aerial visitors. 

Drones are constantly spotted carrying contraband over prison walls, flying illegally overhead stadiums and concerts, and accessing restricted airspace around protected facilities. 

Drone incursions into the Los Angeles airport's restricted airspace nearly tripled from 2019 to 2020.

According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, federal agencies of all types are scrambling to respond to these public safety and national security threats.

Drone Detection To Protect Your Organization

As a concerned security professional, you might be wondering if drone detection could be a viable solution for your organization. In this article, we'll break down exactly how to detect a drone so you can make an informed decision.

How can you detect a drone?

Drone detection works by intercepting critical drone information using one (or preferably many) of the following methods: RF analysis, radar, and optical detection (cameras).

Top Methods of Drone Detection

Let's take a look at these drone detection methods and discuss the pros and cons of each:

  1. Radio Frequency (RF) Analysers
  2. Radar
  3. Optical Sensors (Cameras)

RF Analysis

Radiofrequency analysis based detection systems work as follows: 

  • Radio waves are received via one or more antennas.
  • A processor analyses the RF spectrum.

These systems, in some forms, have the capability of identifying more common drone makes and models.

Aerial Armor is a certified DJI AeroScope drone detection equipment dealer. Our RF antennas are strong enough to pinpoint the drone's location and its operator through triangulation.

Advantages of RF: 

  • Low cost.
  • Potential to detect and possibly identify multiple drones and controllers.
  • No license is required.
  • Able to triangulate drone & controller positions.

Potential problems:

  • Locating and tracking features don't always work.
  • They can't detect autonomous drones.
  • They are not as effective in areas with a mix of many radio frequencies.
  • Their range is often limited.

Drone Detection Radar

Drone detection radar uses radio energy to detect the presence of a drone. The reflection of the radio signal can determine the direction and distance. 

Most radars purposely avoid picking up small targets to focus on large aircraft instead. These systems send out a burst of radio signals, then analyze the echo.

Advantages of Radar:

  • Radar offers long-range, constant tracking.
  • Locations detected usually are very accurate.
  • They can handle multiple targets at once.
  • They can catch autonomous drones.
  • Visual conditions do not limit their use.

Potential problems:

  • Differentiation issues - is it a bird, or is it a drone?
  • A transmission license is necessary.
  • Frequency checks are required to prevent interference.

To avoid these issues, Aerial Armor combines detection methods into a layered solution. These layered solutions offer you and your organization the best in drone detection services

Thermal or Visual Detection Cameras 

Optically based systems for drone detection can utilize standard daylight camera features, infrared or thermal imaging techniques. This system relies on enhanced video cameras that communicate with our drone detection software. 


  • Can observe information on the drone and any payload it carries.
  • Records images that can be used as evidence if prosecution takes place.

Potential problems:

  • Impractical to use alone for detection.
  • False alarms are common.
  • Difficult to use in darkness, fog, and other low visibility conditions. 

Those were just a few ways to detect drones that have entered your airspace. You may be wondering, what do you do next

Our drone detection software will store all flight data and can even store data based on the individual serial number to find repeat offenders. This info can be used to prosecute drone operators who violate laws and regulations.

For those who want to take the next, drone mitigation could help remove drones from your airspace.

Drone Mitigation

Jamming and spoofing are two important ways to stop or control drone operations when drones threaten the health and safety of others. Both tactics interfere with the signal between the pilot and the drone. But each works a bit differently. Basically:

  1. Jamming screws up the drone's controls.
  2. Spoofing hijacks control of the drone.  

Radiofrequency jammers

A radio frequency jammer is a device that can be static, mobile, or handheld. The device transmits RF energy toward the drone. 

This large amount of energy masks the controller's signal, which can then cause the drone to make a controlled landing at its current location or return to the home location set by its user (the home location might, however, be a set target planned for destruction).

The drone might also fall to the ground or fly away, out of control. Jammers may not be sold legally in many places. Their use is risky. 


  • Reasonable, medium-level pricing.
  • Neutralization that doesn't involve projectiles. 

Potential problems: 

  • The range is short.
  • The signal could jam other types of radio communications.
  • Unpredictable drone action could result. 
  • A drone might proceed to its target, which may result in a disaster. 

Radiofrequency interception 

Sometimes called spoofing, radiofrequency interception involves a third party taking over the controls of a drone from a remote location. Spoofing a drone consists of emitting a signal designed to confuse the drone. The drone thinks the spoofing signal is a legitimate signal from its pilot's remote control. But it's not. The party doing the spoofing can then take control. 

Eclipse does a great job of this and is one of our many recommended counter-drone solutions.

Contact Us Today

In need of an all-in-one drone detection solution? Contact the team at Aerial Armor!

Aerial Armour drone detection software integrates with multiple RF sensors, radars, and ADS-B to provide clients with the most advanced layered security zones. 

We are your source for drone detection solutions.

The perfect drone detection solution for your security team

Prevent drone intrusions with the latest drone detection technology. Contact Aerial Armor today and secure your airspace.

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