Department 13 seals counter-drone deal with South Korean military

Department 13 seals counter-drone deal with South Korean military

Unmanned-aircraft mitigation specialist Department 13 has agreed an exclusive distribution deal to sell its counter-drone technology in South Korea.

The Marlyland-based company has partnered with Korea Counter Terrorism Solutions (KCTS) to distribute its MESMER anti-drone system to customers that include the Korean military, local airports, manufacturers, and corporations.

Fears over drone weaponisation

Despite recent progress in talks between North and South Korea, it’s unlikely that demilitarisation will occur any time soon. It’s only a matter of months since the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, at which South Korean security forces deployed a raft of counter drone measures.

Although no attacks from the air came to pass, there is an expectation that readily available consumer drones will eventually be weaponised and used by terrorist groups or hostile states. Reports of such adaptations have already emerged from combat zones in the Middle East.

Aside from weaponisation, hobbyist pilots have on several occasions disrupted air traffic at international airports around the world. There are also reports of prison deliveries and fears over industrial espionage.

The MESMER system

With that in mind, Department 13 is one of many players in the growing counter-drone market. The company’s MESMER solution relies on protocol manipulation, a solution that effectively hacks the drone in question and hands over control to the authorities, instead of simply jamming the drone’s signal or shooting it out of the sky.

The ability to manipulate weaknesses in all digital radio protocols allows users of the MESMER system to detect and take down drones automatically. Authorities can force them to stop, redirect them, land them, or take control depending on the situation at hand.

Technology adoption amid precarious security

“South Korea has a highly concentrated urban population with over 25 million residents living in Seoul alone,” Department 13 said on a call to investors.

“Marked by terrorist attacks and North Korean provocations, which continue to threaten national security and public safety, coupled with a strong reputation for early adoption of new technology, the South Korean market represents a substantial opportunity.”

Department 13’s new Korean distributor will sell the MESMER system along with a range of products designed to help local authorities handle terror situations, including radiation detectors, exposure medicine, and cyber-terror solutions.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is on the rise led by the drone industry, and drones are only getting smarter, faster, and stronger, becoming a serious threat to government organisations, infrastructure, and corporations,” said KCTS chair, Euikwon Yoon.

Internet of Business says

These are challenging times for drone specialists, which have the difficult task of, on the one hand, allaying public fears of hostile technologies so that unmanned platforms can continue their good work in saving lives, getting blood and medicines to rural zones, maintaining transport networks and fixing wind turbines, while on the other, adopting sensible measures to manage air traffic and very real security problems – as this report indicates.

Meanwhile, countries such as China, Japan, and India tend to hog the headlines in Asian technology terms, but the fact remains that South Korea is by far the world’s most automated nation, according to recent figures from the International Federation of Robotics.