SINGAPORE — Asian nations are expanding their use of counter-drone systems for military use amid the increasing prevalence of unmanned aerial vehicles crossing shared borders, and companies in the U.S. and Singapore are looking to meet demand.

Governments in the region have been using counter-drone technologies for almost a decade for security, but the recent increase in unauthorized, cross-border UAV traffic and the daily examples of drone combat on display in Ukraine and the Middle East are prompting many Asian countries to step up development of their unmanned warfare capabilities.

South Korea’s military installed Liteye drone-detection systems, now made by High Point Aerotechnologies, in the demilitarized zone in 2019 to spot North Korean aerial intrusions, and this year launched a five-year program to establish a drone force capable of countering them. Taiwan plans to equip its armed forces with counter-drone tech for possible use against China.

“The worst kind of drone threat is one that you don’t detect,” according to Josh Chartier, vice president of business pursuits with Dallas-based High Point. “And so it’s imperative you have systems and processes in place to detect what’s flying in the space so you can make decisions based on policy and what to do to mitigate response.”

High Point, which opened an office in Singapore last month, is bringing counter-drone technologies to the region, Chief Revenue Officer Evan Hunt told C4ISRNET in an interview. Most “existed in secret” but have been in use by the U.S. government, he said.

“In this part of the region, it’s going to focus on civil aviation side, but as you get closer to China and those countries, it becomes more of a military threat and drones become an issue of sovereignty,” Hunt said.

While countries do not want to identify the systems they have, some governments have opened tenders seeking counter-drone systems to boost military surveillance, he said.

High Point displayed its Sawtooth Counter Unmanned Aircraft System at the Singapore Airshow. It’s a modular platform with long- and short-range radars, passive RF systems, and EO/IR cameras. The Sawtooth has been used by Singaporean authorities for years to “identify, track, detect and defeat nefarious drones,” Hunt said.

Russia’s use of kamikaze and surveillance drones against Ukraine and Houthi rebels flying bomb-carrying drones to attack Israel-bound ships in the Red Sea are driving demand for tech that can defend against them, according to the companies. Amid these threats, governments in Asia have a growing understanding of the negative impacts of drones and are moving rapidly to install radars and jammers, High Point’s Senior Director for International Pursuits Dirk Manley said.

“Electronic warfare has fundamentally changed the battlefield,” Chris Miller, chief revenue officer of High Point’s sister company Dzyne Technologies and a former acting U.S. secretary of defense, said during the Singapore Airshow last month. Miller pointed out that trillions of dollars worth of defense capabilities could be “annihilated by things you build in garages.”

TRD Systems

TRD Systems, a local company, unveiled its counter-drone gun at the Singapore Airshow. It’s among the technologies chosen by the Canadian government to send with its armed forces in Latvia, where threats include a mix of commercial and bespoke kamikaze drones, CEO Sam Ong said.

“No matter what drone they use, they will use satellites, and our drone gun can cover all of these systems and cut off their signal,” he said. “It’s not about how big or small drones are, as long as it depends on satellites, we can stop it.”

The company is providing counter-drone systems to all 11 countries in Southeast Asia. While Thailand is a major market, recent years saw an upsurge in sales from Vietnam and Cambodia, Ong said.

Last year, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the deployment of troops and counter-drone systems on its northern border after reports of drone incursions allegedly flown by insurgents in Vietnam.

In Thailand, the Royal Thai Armed Forces mapped out early this year a series of joint training exercises with the Royal Thai Police focused on counter-drone technology and intelligence gathering.

Leilani Chavez is an Asia correspondent for Defense News. Her reporting expertise is in East Asian politics, development projects, environmental issues and security.

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