Drone Detection Radar

Manufacturers of drone detection radar technologies and suppliers of active and passive drone detection radar systems for counter unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) applications and unmanned traffic management (UTM) solutions
Overview Drone Detection Radar
By Mike Ball Last updated: November 7th, 2023

Using Radar to Detect Drones

EchoFlight ESA Radar for Drone Detect-and-Avoid by Echodyne

EchoFlight ESA Radar for Drone Detect-and-Avoid by Echodyne

Radar technologies are used for the detection of drones and UAS (unmanned aerial systems) as a crucial part of counter-UAS defenses and airspace management systems. Drone detection radar systems protect against hostile drone threats as well as accidental collisions with buildings, aircraft and other obstacles.

Radar works by emitting electromagnetic pulses in the RF (radio frequency) portion of the spectrum and measuring the reflections returned when the pulses collide with objects.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Radar provides a number of advantages for drone detection. Unlike electro-optical technologies, it is not hampered by poor lighting or weather conditions. It can also be used to detect fully autonomous drones, unlike other systems that work by sensing the presence of radio control signals sent between the drone and its ground control station. Many radar systems, however, do not have the resolution required to detect very small drones.

Active & Passive Drone Detection

UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) detection radar may use either active or passive radar technologies. Active radar transmits its own energy either in pulses or continuous waves, passive radar does not.

Active continuous-wave radar takes advantage of the Doppler effect to measure frequency shift and calculate the speed and trajectory of detected drones, and is ideal for protecting against low-speed and low-altitude threats.

Passive radar receives signals emitted from other sources, and is useful in applications where the user does not wish to be detected.

KAPAN Counter Drone System - Precise UAS Detection by Meteksan

KAPAN Counter Drone System – Precise UAS Detection by Meteksan

Counter-UAS Systems

Drone detection radars are incorporated into C-UAS systems, typically as part of a suite of detection technologies, including EO/IR gimbals and RF detection sensors, to provide maximum threat protection. The counter-drone system may include a database of radar signatures that helps to identify and classify the drone threat.

Unmanned Traffic Management

UAV detection radar may also be used by civilian air traffic systems such as unmanned traffic management (UTM) solutions, providing real-time tracking and identification of drones to provide maximum safety and situational awareness within the airspace.


Primarily focused on identifying and tracking drone and UAS, drone detection radar systems have a wide range of applications in various industries and scenarios, including providing situational awareness and C-UAS solutions for:

  • Airports – for providing enhanced security by detecting unauthorized drone activity in restricted airspace
  • Prisons – preventing drones from delivering contraband or aiding escapes by identifying and intercepting drones near correctional facilities
  • Public Events – ensuring safety at large gatherings, such as concerts or sporting events
  • Government Facilities – used to safeguard government buildings and installations against potential drone-based threats or espionage
  • Critical Infrastructure – can be used to protected vital infrastructure such as power stations and chemical plants
  • Military Installations – to provide early warning of possible drone attacks against military bases and command posts
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