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The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is one of the most significant technological developments in the last decade. However, where once such equipment was unique to military operations, the use of a new generation of small and cheap to buy UAVs has spread exponentially. This brings a new dimension to contemporary terrorism, with those determined to do harm, seeking different ways of carrying out attacks on civilians.
Easily purchased and simple to fly, these UAVs can carry a payload of several kilograms, but are sized to evade traditional security surveillance. Thus, a recreational UAV, which costs no more than a few hundred dollars, can be deployed as an aerial improvised explosive device (IED) or aerial substance disperser.
Many solutions have been designed to help combat this new threat, from Radio Frequency (RF) technologies to physical interceptors. While RF technologies can be used to great effect to disable UAVs, the safety implications of using powerful RF technology, particularly in built-up civilian areas, are serious but rarely talked about.
For SteelRock UAV, the safety of both the counter-UAV system operator and the surrounding human environment have always been a key concern. To address this serious RF technology safety issue, SteelRock UAV has created the NightFighter Counter-UAV System — a highly focussed, directional antenna system, for use in military and civil protection applications that can override, repel, capture and/or take-down UAVs.
Having analysed the problems posed by existing Counter-UAV technology, the NightFighter was designed and manufactured to maximise the safety of the system's operator, as well as the immediate infrastructure and surroundings. If not directed properly, items such as hospital health monitoring systems, security and police communications, telecoms infrastructure (mobile phone masts), vehicle navigation systems and life-saving medical devices (such as pace-makers), which all rely on RF, can be materially affected by Counter-UAV RF devices. The NightFighter has been carefully developed to avoid any levels of interference with such critical national infrastructure, while still delivering precisely and safely on specific targets.
By using a highly directional antenna, the NightFighter minimises the surrounding environment's exposure to RF and, as importantly, shields the operator from the dangerous RF exposure levels that are experienced with other Counter-UAV RF systems.
The NightFighter has undergone rigorous safety and Radiation Hazard testing to ensure that all the steps taken have created the safest Counter-UAV system on the market. Not only has the NightFighter passed all these tests, but in a recent controlled UAV ‘take-down’ at range, the RF exposure to the operator was measured at 10 per cent of the permitted EU limits — far exceeding design safety expectations.
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