How To Detect Drones: The Definitive Drone Detection & Tracking Guide by Aerial Armor

Aerial Armor

With the rise in popularity of commercially available drones, it's never been more critical to ensure your organization can detect unwanted drones from miles away.  


Drones are being spotted carrying contraband over prison walls, flying illegally overhead stadiums and concerts, and accessing restricted airspace around protected facilities like nuclear power plants, airports and government facilities. 


According to the Wall Street Journal, drone incursions into the Los Angeles airport's restricted airspace nearly tripled from 2019 to 2020. 


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 drones so you can make an informed decision.

What is drone detection?

Drone detection is the practice of detecting and tracking Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones). Security teams and law enforcement agencies use drone detection systems to monitor their airspace and take appropriate actions against unwanted drones. Flight data and operator information can be retrieved and used to take legal action, when necessary.

How are drones detected?


To detect drones effectively, you need a layered drone detection solution that includes RF detection, drone radar, optical technology (thermal cameras) and leading-edge software to tie every system together. Drones are detected by preferably using a combination of these drone detection methods.

At Aerial Armor, It’s our business to protect your business from unwanted aerial intruders. We will show you how we do just this in the following steps.


Aerial Armor's Drone Detection Software

Top Methods of Drone Detection and Tracking

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

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


RF Analysis

Radiofrequency analysis based detection systems are some of the most widely-used drone detection methods currently on the market. RF analysis is effective because many of the more common drone types send and receive radio signals between the UAV and the controller.


DJI (the leading drone manufacturer by far - with 76% of total market share) , for instance, requires their customers to register an account before the user can fly the drone. In doing so, the user also consents to making their flight & registration data available to security personnel who might need to access this data for security reasons. 

This is precisely why Aerial Armor is a certified DJI AeroScope drone detection equipment dealer.
The AeroScope RF antennas & sensors we install for our clients are able to track down the vast majority of drones and intercept important information about the drone make, model, serial number, homepoint, and even the pilot’s location. 

In some cases, our RF drone systems have been able to spot drones up to 100 miles away where meteorological and terrain conditions were ideal.

Mobile DJI AeroScope

Advantages of RF Drone Detection: 

  • Can detect, identify and pinpoint multiple drones and their operators simultaneously.
  • No license is required to purchase and install these systems (although we conduct a thorough vetting process).
  • Able to triangulate drone & controller positions accurately.
  • Mobile detection systems are also available for law enforcement agencies and other security personnel who need to track drones right back to their source.

Potential problems:

  • Drone locating and tracking features don't always work.
  • Can't detect autonomous drones(non-piloted drones).
  • They are not as effective in areas with a mix of many radio frequencies.
  • Their range is often limited, especially in rugged terrain with physical obstacles present.


RF drone sensors are where we start with nearly every organization. Learn more about the AeroScope here. 

Drone Detection Radar

Another way to detect drones (that works great in conjunction with RF systems) is by using a specially-tuned radar system. 

Drone detection radar uses radio energy to detect the presence of a drone and determine its location

Most radar purposely avoid picking up small targets to focus on large aircraft instead. But, the pulsating doppler radar systems we install are calibrated to detect drones around 3 miles away.

Aerial Armor is an official partner of Observation Without Limits (OWL) and we provide and install their GroundAware radar units. 


drone detection radar unit ga9120
GA9120 Drone Detection Radar Unit

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.


Again, it’s important to emphasize that we normally suggest combining drone detection systems to ensure your facility utilizes a layered solution. These layered solutions offer you and your organization the best in drone detection services and can easily overcome the potential problems presented by any one detection method.

To provide the most robust drone detection system and to overcome differentiation issues, we highly recommend the use of detection cameras.


Thermal or Visual Detection Cameras 


Some of the latest in drone detection technology includes thermal cameras. These optical drone detection units utilize standard daylight camera features along with powerful infrared and/or thermal imaging techniques.

These enhanced cameras rely on powerful technology that seamlessly integrates with our drone detection software and other drone detection systems.

Aerial Armor works hand-in-hand with Silent Sentinel - one of the world’s leading providers of drone detection cameras - to ensure our security clients have the latest and greatest detection technology. 


how to detect drones detection camera aeron ranger
Aeron Ranger Drone Detection Camera


  • Can quickly observe information on the drone and any payload it carries.
  • Records images & videos 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. 

Tying It All Together

Each of these drone detection systems is only as powerful as the software solution that can extract data and present it to you and your security team in an efficient and concise manner.

As a partner of Aerial Armor, you and your team will utilize our proprietary drone detection software that enables all of these systems to work together as one.

Our software is also accompanied by a drone detection app that will send you and your team notifications upon drone detection so you can respond to any threat within seconds of detection.


Dealing with Drones After Detection


Those were the most effective ways you and your team can detect drones before they enter your airspace. You may be wondering though, what do you do after you have detected a drone

That entirely depends on the circumstance. Our drone detection software will store all flight data and can retrieve that data based on the individual serial number of the drone to find repeat offenders.

If it has been deemed that a drone violated local or federal regulations, this info can be used to obtain a subpoena and eventually prosecute drone operators who violate laws and regulations.

Drone detection data can also help your team pinpoint airspace and/or recurring time periods when and where unauthorized drone intrusion is occurring the most. 

For those who want to take the next step and ensure drones do not physically interfere with your organization, drone mitigation could be the solution you need.


Drone Mitigation Methods


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


We work hand-in-hand with Eclipse - who does a great job of this and is one of our recommended counter-drone solutions.


Contact Us Today


After learning more about how to detect a drone, you might decide an all-in-one drone detection solution would best-fit your organization. If so, contact the team at Aerial Armor!


Aerial Armor drone detection software integrates with multiple RF sensors, radars, and ADS-B to provide clients with the most advanced and layered security solution to help protect your airport and other facilities from unwanted drones. 


We are your source for all things drone detection. Reach us today at 480-447-1517.

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.

secure your airspace

Ready to secure your airspace from unwanted drones?

Contact Aerial Armor today and get a free threat assessment to determine the risk levels of your airspace.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.