Oceanside police buy a ‘drone killer’

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — A device that can bring down drone aircraft, presumably as they interfere with emergency firefighting planes and police helicopters, has been obtained by Oceanside police.

Oceanside PD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were among the first police agencies to acquire a”Drone Killer” from IXI Technology, a Yorba Linda company that supplies electronic equipment to the U.S. armed forces, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday. Deputies deployed the anti-drone device at the 2017 Rose Parade.

IXI Technology agreed to donate the $30,000 drone-incapacitating weapon to Oceanside police and made a presentation to the Oceanside City Council on March 28, the Union-Tribune reported.

“The purpose is primarily for emergency situations,” Oceanside police Lt. Aaron Doyle told the newspaper. “It won’t be used when someone complains about a neighbor flying a drone. It’s pretty much for a life-or-death situation, to save lives.”

Drones can force authorities to ground air operations to avoid collisions. That’s what happened in December during the Lilac fire, when aerial firefighting had to be called off for more than an hour due to a drone in the area.

The device can be pointed at a drone in the air and will cut off communication between it and its operator, the Union-Tribune reported. A drone targeted by the device will either hover in place, return to the place it was launched or simply land, depending on its programming.

The device can disable most drone models, IXI Technology’s Andy Morabe told the Union-Tribune. When the drone killer encounter’s a drone it can’t stop, the company plans to rewrite software to remedy the problem within days, Morabe said.