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Drone attack on military installations in Jammu foiled: Army

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Soldiers fire on two drones found hovering over Ratnuchak-Kaluchak military areas

Jammu: A fresh attempt to attack a military installation with the help of drones was foiled by Army sentries at the Ratnuchak-Kaluchak station who fired at the unmanned aerial vehicles that flew away, an incident that came hours after an IAF station saw the first attack using quadcopters.

The first drone was spotted at around 11.45 pm on Sunday followed by another at 2.40 am over the military station, which was witness to a militant attack in 2002 in which 31 people were killed, including 10 children.

Officials on Monday said that alert Army troops fired nearly two dozen rounds to bring down the drones hovering over its brigade headquarters.

“…two separate drone activities were spotted over Ratnuchak-Kaluchak military area by alert troops,” Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand said in a statement here.

He said a high alert was sounded immediately and Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) engaged the drones with firing.

“Both the drones flew away. A major threat was thwarted by the alertness and proactive approach of troops,” he said, adding the security forces are on high alert and the search operation is in progress.

The officials said the whole area outside the military station was cordoned off immediately and a massive search operation was going on when the last reports were received.

Nothing objectionable has been found on the ground so far, the officials said.

The latest incident comes hours after a drone, in a first-of-its kind strike, dropped two bombs at Indian Air Force (IAF) station here, causing minor injuries to two personnel.

The military station at Kaluchak has been on high alert ever since the 2002 attack. Thirty-one people, including three military personnel, 16 Army family members — women and children — and 11 civilians were killed in the attack. Forty eight people, including 13 Army personnel, 20 Army family members and 15 civilians were injured.

‘Preliminary analysis indicates use of RDX in explosives dropped on Jammu IAF station’

Jammu: A preliminary analysis of the payload carried by the two drones used in attacking the IAF station here Sunday indicates that a cocktail of chemicals including RDX may have been used, officials said Monday, with investigators yet to establish the flight path of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

The IAF station located at Jammu airport continued to remain out of bounds for everyone with probe teams, which included one from the National Investigation Agency, picking up every bit of evidence available on the ground.

The officials said the explosive material dropped by the drones might have been manufactured using a cocktail consisting of RDX but a final confirmation was still awaited.

They said an NSG post-blast analysis team has been sent to the IAF station to study the material. This team will share its findings with the Jammu and Kashmir police and the NIA after completing the task.

Two bombs were dropped at the IAF station in Jammu airport in the early hours of Sunday, causing minor injuries to two IAF personnel.

The explosions took place around 1.40 am within six minutes of each other. The first blast ripped off the roof of a single-storey building at the technical area of the airport manned by the IAF in Satwari area on the outskirts of the city. The second one was on the ground.

The investigations are going on but the teams are still clueless about the path taken by the drones before dropping the bombs, the sources said.

Various probe agencies and senior officers of the army, police and other security agencies visited the IAF station for the second day on Monday, while the Army’s Quick Reaction Teams were seen patrolling the areas outside the base on regular intervals.

J&K Director General of Police Dilbag Singh has termed the incident a “terror act” and said the police and other agencies were working with IAF officials to unravel the plan behind the attack.

Investigators scanned CCTV footage, including from cameras installed on the boundary walls of the airport, in an effort to determine from where the drones came. However, all the CCTV cameras focused on the roadside, the officials said.

Vehicular movement recorded around the venue at the time when the drones dropped the explosive material was being scrutinised minutely, they said.

Drones cannot be detected by radars deployed at border areas to monitor enemy activity, they said, suggesting that a different radar system that can detect drones as small as a bird be installed.

The drones dropped the explosive material and were either flown back across the border or to some other destination during the night, the officials said.

The aerial distance from the Jammu airport to the international border is 14 km.

Jammu airport is a civil airport with the runway and the ATC (air traffic control) under the IAF.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police has registered an FIR under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, officials said, indicating that the case is likely to be taken over by the NIA.

“The NIA is already supervising the investigation at the scene of the blast after joining the probe,” one of the officials had said Sunday.

The FIR was also registered under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act and the Indian Penal Code at the Satwari police station on the application of a junior warrant officer of the IAF, he said.

More than 300 drone sightings post Aug, 2019 along Pak border: Agencies

New Delhi: Over 300 drones and unidentified flying objects have been sighted along the sensitive border with Pakistan post the 2019 abrogation of Article 370, central security agencies have said, even as they grapple to find a suitable technology to check these lethal sky-floaters.

A multitude of border security agencies have also been testing some indigenously-built counter-drone technologies in the rough jungle terrains, desert and marshes along the western front but have had little success till date, officials told PTI Monday.

The lead security agency — the Border Security Force (BSF) — and the frontier units of various police units along the 3,323-km-long front have since adopted a standard operating procedure of ‘sight and blight’ in case a drone, an unidentified flying object or a remotely-operated aerial vehicle is spotted in the air.

“The existing system to kill an enemy drone is that the security guard has to be vigilant on the ground and the sky and as soon as a drone is sighted, it has to be blighted or neutralised by plain shooting from the service weapon like INSAS rifles,” a senior officer explained.

Data prepared and shared by the central security agencies with the government said over 300 “definite sightings” were made by the BSF and other police units after August 05, 2019, when Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was withdrawn and it was bifurcated into two Union Territories of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh.

There were 167 sightings of drones along the western front (largely Jammu and Punjab) in 2019, 77 last year and about 60 this year till now, as per the data.

“These are minimum or to say the confirmed sightings by BSF troops and other security agencies personnel along the India-Pakistan border,” a senior officer in the security establishment said.

There could be 50-60 more such sightings which are not included in the data for reasons like capturing only the whirring sound of the drone, difficulty to differentiate between a balloon and a drone and un-specified suspicious flying objects, the officer said.

Officials said the BSF also tested a prototype of a counter-drone system along this front in October, 2019 while some similar trials were held at its campus in Bhondsi near here around the same time.

The latter was part of a multi-stakeholder national conference held by the central police think tank– the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD).

“What is largely available technology at present is a circular counter-drone security system that is suited well to secure a military installation or campus,” another officer said on the condition of anonymity.

“What is required for border security is a linear ‘sky fence’ like interception, jamming and destruction system which is not available as of now.”

Indian habitations and important bases all along the Pakistan border are the most vulnerable when it comes to attacks by a single or a swarm of drones, he said.

This is because, the officer said, infiltration has become very tough due to the effective domination by security forces in anticipation of the terrorist designs post-August 2019, regular unearthing and plugging of the under-ground tunnels and a ceasefire recently agreed upon by the two neighbours, he said.

On Sunday, two drones are stated to have dropped their explosive payload at the IAF station in Jammu making it the first case of an UAV attack on a military base in the country.

The internal security establishment, as per official sources, is analysing some specific anti-drone techniques like sky fence, drone gun, ATHENA, drone catcher and Skywall 100 to intercept and immobilise suspicious and lethal remote-controlled aerial platforms.

A drone gun is capable of jamming the radio, global positioning system (GPS) and mobile signal between the drone and the pilot and forces the drone to ground in good time before it could carry out its destructive design or secret reconnaissance mission.

Another solution being looked at is the sky fence system that uses a range of signal disruptors to jam the flight path and prevent the drones from entering their target, a sensitive installation or an event venue.

ATHENA, which stands for Advanced Test High Energy Asset, is another weapon under analysis as it works by firing a high energy laser beam on a rogue drone resulting in its complete destruction in the air.

A counter-UAV technology called drone catcher– that swiftly approaches an enemy drone and grabs it by throwing a net around it– is also being thought upon.

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