Drone Drills

How to Prepare for a Drone Incident

By Lieutenant Colonel

By Lt Col



, GE


Joint Air Power Competence Centre

 April 2024


Do you know what to do when you spot a drone flying above you or outside your office window? Are you aware of the potential threats and hazards that drones can pose? Do you know the appropriate actions to take when encountering one? Furthermore, do you know how to protect yourself and what steps you can take to ensure the safety of those around you?

We recommend reading this paper if you find yourself seeking answers to these questions. It delves into the immediate actions individuals should take in the first few minutes of a drone incident before the arrival of the guard force, police, or other first responders. It’s important to note that this paper does not focus on technically advanced countermeasures provided by professional C-UAS systems. Instead, its emphasis lies in guiding individuals on how to respond to a drone incident safely and effectively, much like administering first aid measures before the arrival of an ambulance or implementing evacuation measures before the appearance of a bomb squad.

Executive Summary

Well-established emergency procedures are vital for swift and efficient crisis management across military, civil, and public sectors. These protocols encompass first aid, fire, and bomb threat calls, aiming to save lives, prevent harm, and minimize destruction. Regular drills ensure that all stakeholders are well-versed in these procedures, contributing to effective crisis handling and safety.

While established protocols exist for common emergencies, organizations often lack specific plans for drone incidents, which are becoming more prevalent due to increased drone usage. Responses to drone incidents require tailored plans covering threat assessment, protection measures, and implementation of immediate procedures. Regular drills are essential to ensure readiness and proficiency.

Effective response to drone incidents might be delayed as Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) technology is not yet widely available. Therefore, immediate actions upon detection are crucial to minimizing harm, damage, and potential casualties.

Threats Originating from Drones

The proliferation of drones and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has brought opportunities and potential threats to various sectors. Drones with cameras raise concerns about privacy violations and breaching security as well as illegal monitoring of restricted areas and government facilities. Additionally, drone collisions and malfunctions pose physical hazards. The weaponization of drones and their potential for cyber-attacks add further dimensions to these concerns.

The accessibility of drones and their user-friendly controls make potential abuses feasible even without advanced expertise. The second chapter highlights recent incidents and the pressing need to address drone-related threats comprehensively, with tailored response plans, education, and countermeasures to ensure the health and safety of personnel.

Drone Drills - Figure 1

Figure 1: DJI Showroom in Katowice, Poland.  © EricBery/Shutterstock.com

Drone Capabilities

Even in their most affordable variants, drones can capture high-definition images and identify objects and individuals from substantial distances. The level of detail varies, but a general guideline is that larger drones offer better imaging capabilities. Larger drones positioned a few metres away from a window can capture enough detail to read documents and computer screens inside a room. Moreover, larger fonts used in presentations, diagrams, headlines, and whiteboard notes are even more susceptible to drone capture.

The potential dangers posed by drones are magnified when considering their possible use as delivery systems for explosives. Small amounts of explosives can cause significant harm to the human body and easily break glass surfaces and windows. Common public and office buildings are often not designed to withstand explosions, focusing more on protection against burglary and intrusion. Detecting explosives within drones, especially when concealed, is exceptionally challenging for an untrained eye. Therefore, encountering an unauthorized drone requires extreme caution, treating the drone as a possible Improvised Explosive Device (IED) until professionals can assess the situation and provide clearance.

Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear substances have varying effects, with even minor quantities and brief contact times posing severe health risks. Dedicated equipment, such as liquid tanks with spray nozzles or specialized containers, is needed to apply these substances. Caution is essential, especially if attached tanks or containers are visible. Professionals should always be consulted to respond in such situations, and individuals should refrain from employing their own measures to prevent being contaminated.

The evolution of cyberattacks has introduced new challenges. Previously, attackers had to approach target networks physically, risking detection and arrest. However, contemporary methods enable attackers to employ drones to breach physical security boundaries. Equipped with tools like the ‘WiFi Pineapple’1, an altered version of the Raspberry Pi2, drones can infiltrate protected areas without the attacker’s physical presence. Paired with local cellular connectivity, drones can launch substantial attacks against wireless networks, which can pose a significant threat, from compromising intellectual property and exploiting system vulnerabilities to breaching personal data. The potential for sabotage, including data deletion and destruction of computer-controlled equipment, is a reality. This merging of technology and tactics emphasizes the urgency of implementing comprehensive security measures in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Immediate Response Options

Any initial action should eliminate the drone’s ability to cause harm or capture footage and images. Stand-off and staying clear of a drone are the best protection until trained professionals can take countermeasures. Recommended measures that can be handled easily and swiftly are locking the computer screen and leaving the room. Depending on the situation and available time, curtains and shutters can be closed, and sensitive documents can be covered or stored away. Doors should be closed, and staff should stay clear of glass surfaces and windows. Wireless connections should be turned off or at least checked if they are still connected to the network they are supposed to be on.

Preparatory Mitigation Options

Preventive safety measures can significantly minimize the required time or even eliminate the need for the immediate actions described above, thus saving critical time for a rapid evacuation. Recommended options include arranging workspaces not to be observed from the outside, installing window shutters, placing desks at a distance from windows, and establishing designated evacuation points for drone incidents. Educating staff on cyber security, providing best practices for handling mobile devices, and investing in enterprise-level wireless network security mitigates drone-delivered cyber threats.

Drone Drills - Figure 2
Figure 2: Unlike traditional safety measures like fire alarms, it is important to note that in the event of a drone incident, leaving the building may actually put you at risk of danger from the drone. As a result, designated assembly points should be established inside the building for this specific scenario. The illustration provided displays a recommended sign that should be placed in these designated locations. For easy access, the sign can be downloaded from the JAPCC website. | Drone: © AdobeStock, 260694458 (10 November 2023); Shield: © Copyrighted; Group: FourLeafLover – stock.adobe.com; Arrows: © Copyrighted

Post Incident Measures

After a drone incident, the threat may not be over. Drones may have landed, left something behind, or even crashed. Until first responders arrive, personnel must keep clear of a landed or crashed drone and any unexpected objects found after a drone sighting, as it may carry explosives or other hazardous materials.


The widespread availability of drones has introduced a spectrum of security challenges. Drones can capture high-resolution images, detect objects, and even transport explosives. Privacy concerns arise as advanced drones can decode documents and screens, potentially exposing sensitive information. Safety risks are heightened when explosives are involved, as small amounts can cause significant damage and injuries due to the lack of blast-resistant structures and difficulties in detecting hidden charges. Additionally, even minimal quantities of hazardous materials carried by drones can cause severe health effects. The evolving landscape of cyberattacks adds another layer of complexity, with drones equipped with tools like the Raspberry Pi bypassing physical security to compromise networks and sensitive data. Education and training are vital to address these issues, enabling personnel to recognize threats, understand drone risks, and implement appropriate protocols.

Hak5 LLC, ‘WiFi Pineapple’, [online store], https://shop.hak5.org/products/wifi-pineapple, (accessed 7 November 2023).
Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers originally leaned toward the promotion of teaching basic computer science in schools but can be easily turned into serious Wi-Fi hacking tools. Technical specifications and purchase options for the most recent model can be found at the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s homepage at https://www.raspberrypi.com/products.


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Lieutenant Colonel
Joint Air Power Competence Centre

Lieutenant Colonel Haider began his military career with the German Armed Forces in April 1992. He initially served as a Personnel NCO in the 150th Rocket Artillery Battalion HQ. Following his promotion to Lieutenant in 1998, he took on the role of an MLRS platoon leader within the same battalion. After three years, he transitioned to the position of CIS Branch Head at the 150th Rocket Artillery Battalion HQ. Subsequently, Lieutenant Colonel Haider was assigned to the 325th Tank Artillery Battalion, where he served as a battery commander before assuming command of the maintenance and supply battery. In 2008, he was appointed as the commander of the maintenance and supply company within the 284th Signal Battalion. His responsibilities expanded in 2010 when he became the Deputy Commander of the German support staff for the 1st NATO Signal Battalion. As a follow-on assignment, he served as the Deputy Battalion Commander of the 132nd Rocket Artillery Battalion.

Since 2012, Lieutenant Colonel Haider has been a Subject Matter Expert for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems within the JAPCC Combat Air Branch. Lieutenant Colonel Haider represents the JAPCC in and contributes to several key NATO groups, including the NATO Joint Capability Group Unmanned Aircraft Systems, the NATO Counter-UAS Working Group, and the NATO Joint Capability Group Maritime Unmanned Systems.

Information provided is current as of April 2024

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