Drone jammers or anti-drones are a relatively new technology designed to disconnect drones from their ground-based operator's remote controls. This prevents control of the drone and, of course, causes the drone to crash once physics takes over.
You may have recently heard of the Iranian drone that was downed by a U.S. Marine Corps drone jammer in July. This particular drone jammer is attached to a military UTV, which allows it to remain mobile. If you're wondering how this system works, you're in the right place. Want to buy and operate one? We'll take a look at that possibility too. Just don't get your hopes up...
The Iranian footage clearly shows the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (LMADIS) deployed aboard the USS Boxer, which indicate that the footage are not old. pic.twitter.com/qstV22zG4N
— Within Syria (@WithinSyriaBlog) July 19, 2019
What Happened With the Iranian Drone Jamming?
In mid-July, an Iranian drone reportedly got too close to a U.S. Navy vessel, the USS Boxer. Unfortunately for the Iranian fixed-wing Mohajer-4 drone, the USS Boxer had the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (LMADIS) on board.
The jamming occurred over the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman south of Iran. When the Drone came too close to the Navy ship, the LMADIS system was rolled onto the ship's deck and put into action. Not long after, gravity took over control of the drone and the UAV fell into the sea.
Are Drone Jammers Legal?
If you like your privacy, the idea of commercial drones potentially outfitted with high-resolution cameras or sound equipment will make your skin crawl. If that's you, you might be interested in purchasing a drone jammer countermeasure. But are they legal for civilians?
That's a complicated question. Federally, there are no laws against owning and operating a drone jammer on your own property or to prevent unwanted surveillance from other citizens. However, many states, counties, and municipalities outlaw the possession of drone jammers. Once more, these laws are always changing and extremely complicated and impractical for everyday considerations.
Also, if you break someone else's drone, you'd likely be legally and financially responsible for the damages. And, of course, accidentally jamming radio frequencies or GPS signals of a government, law enforcement, or military drone would not go over well, to say the least.
Can I Buy a Drone Jammer?
Drones are great, but let's face it, sometimes they are annoying and inappropriate, and you wish you could shoot them out of the sky. Well, surprise, you can't.
As fun as it would be to down a drone bothering you on a climb, backpacking trip, or crowding your property at the push of a button, you can't destroy someone else's property that's in federal airspace, which includes most skies between 500-1,000 feet above US lands.
All that being said...yes, you can buy a drone jammer. And, if someone drops below 500 feet on your property, you might be legally allowed to ground it.
Remember, however, that many drone jammers work by jamming all similar frequencies in the area. If you accidentally down something extra, you'll be responsible for the mishap.
Disclaimer: Drone technology is very new and the laws surrounding them are even newer. They are ever-changing and quite complicated. If you chose to down a drone, don't do it just because you've read this article. We are not legal experts on drone signal jammers.
Even if you check every box before downing a drone, there haven't been enough court cases to know how this action would actually play out in court. According to one court argument dismissed without a ruling: jamming or downing a drone would only be legal if "...the harm inflicted is not unreasonable as compared with the harm threatened." So, even if you do down a drone, you can't do so with undue or disproportional force, it would seem.
Drone Jammer Price
Drone jammer's aren't cheap. Even the least expensive jammers cost thousands of dollars. Frequency jammers are usually more cost-efficient than GPS jammers, but the cheapest we could find was around $2,000.
Conclusion: Should You Take Down That Drone?
If you're going to down a drone with a jammer, you'll first have to spend a pretty penny to acquire the drone jammer. Then, you'll have to wait for a drone to fly below 500 feet over a piece of property that you own and occupy in a municipality and state in which jammers are legal. Even then, you'll probably need to spend some time in court deciding how that actually works.
So, no, we wouldn't recommend downing any drones that aren't an immediate physical threat to your health, currently.