After safeguarding G7 summit, Ottawa’s Allen-Vanguard eyeing anti-drone tech market


From a security perspective, the recent G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., passed mostly without incident. Now, an Ottawa company is stepping up to take a bit of credit.

Defence firm Allen-Vanguard says that its latest product, an “electronic shield” that acts as a countermeasure to drones, was deployed at the recent gathering of world leaders to repel unmanned aerial vehicles from the site.

Cheap commercial drones, modified for reconnaissance or even to drop explosives, are increasingly posing threats in conflicts worldwide. Allen-Vanguard, which has traditionally focused on neutralizing improvised explosive devices in roadside bombs, is taking to the skies to tackle the emerging concern.

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“We took all the knowledge we had from the counter-IED side of the house and adapted it,” says Mike Dithurbide, president of Allen-Vanguard’s electronic systems division.

ANCILE, as the new product is called, prevents potential attacks through radio frequency inhibitors that can disrupt control protocols for commercial drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles at distances up to 1.5 kilometres from a protected site.

The device, which resembles a heavy duty lunch box, has a few advantages over other anti-drone measures currently in use, Dithurbide says. Missiles designed to disable UAVs are often more expensive than the drones they’re targeting and pose great risks if they happen to miss.

Using ANCILE to set up a perimeter provides an invisible layer of security without the need to employ high-cost, high-risk countermeasures, Dithurbide says. The device can be used to secure public events, convoys, bases of operation or other sensitive areas.

The G7 summit was Allen-Vanguard’s first sale of ANCILE, though the company has a number of proposals in the works for other potential customers.

“I can confidently say that our expectation is that we’ll have more sales of ANCILE in the very near future,” Dithurbide says.

Allen-Vanguard employs 50 people at its Ottawa headquarters and some 10 more in the United Kingdom. The firm made headlines locally with its $650-million acquisition of Ottawa’s Med-Eng in 2007.

Dithurbide says Allen-Vanguard is kicking off new projects at its Ottawa facilities to carry its radio frequency expertise into other areas of the electronic warfare domain.

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