In December 2018, two drones entered the airspace over London’s Gatwick airport from different directions. Because so little could be discerned — Were they sent with hostile intent? Were they equipped with weapons? Were more drones on the way? — authorities ultimately grounded thousands of flights for 30 hours. Two years later, the perpetrators remain at large.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ability to stop this kind of attack on American soil remains “limited,” according to a recent report from the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department. 

It’s not hard to see why. A successful response means detecting incoming aircraft, determining hostile intent, choosing a response, deploying an interceptor, and disabling the threat. The fact that the engagement might take place over private land or in several law-enforcement jurisdictions only makes things tougher. It’s such a thorny problem that DHS has instructed its various components to take no counter-drone action until its Office of Policy comes up with a unified approach.

But the lack of current policy means there is a window to explore new ideas. Here’s one: create a system of anti-drone drones installed at airports and other vulnerable locations around the country, remotely operated by one or more centers. 

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