Project Courageous

Project Courageous will develop a standardized test methodology for detecting, tracking and identifying illicit drones.

Timeframe: 2021 to 2023
Budget: EUR 200,000 (as part of EUR 2.3 million total)
Donor: European Union Internal Security Fund Police


As Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) – or drones – become more accessible, law enforcement agencies find themselves confronted with the task of policing the lower airspace.

In addition to commercial and recreational use, drones can be used for criminal activities such as filming in restricted areas, smuggling drugs and other contraband, carrying out terrorist operations, and disrupting critical infrastructure (for example, airports).

Law enforcement officers need to be able to select the appropriate technology to detect, track and intervene when an illicit drone enters the airspace.

While a number of commercial solutions are available for these purposes, there is no standardized approach for assessing, testing and comparing the technology, which makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to make the most appropriate choice for different policing scenarios.

Project summary

Project Courageous will develop a standardized methodology for testing and selecting countermeasure systems that can be used to detect and track a drone that enters protected airspace or a no-fly zone.

This methodology will be based on a series of standard scenarios that represent a wide range of locations and situations, for example, security at prisons, airports, critical infrastructure and borders, and countering drug and human trafficking.

Three specific drone threat scenarios will be created, according to the operational and functional needs defined by the end users. Three validation trials will then be carried out in Belgium, Greece and Spain respectively, against which counter-UAS technology will be used to try to locate and identify both drone and pilot.

Using the results from the validation trials, a comprehensive test methodology will be developed to allow an objective qualitative and quantitative comparison between different counter-UAS tools.

In the short term, the standardized test methodology will lead to a much better understanding of the capabilities needed to counter UAS among law enforcement agencies, not only among Courageous partners, but also within the European Union network of law enforcement agencies and on a global scale via INTERPOL.

In the medium-to-long term, a more extensive set of commercial counter-UAS will be tested using the Courageous methodology, which will also allow developers of such systems to make design decisions based upon quantitative data.

Project activities

  • Identify and develop a set of standard UAS threat scenarios specific to law enforcement needs;
  • Define the performance requirements for counter-UAS (C-UAS) systems;
  • Develop a standardized C-UAS testing methodology;
  • Test the performance of different C-UAS systems with the developed methodology;
  • Share test results among all relevant authorities and publish a C-UAS framework for law enforcement, available to INTERPOL member countries.


Project Courageous is implemented by a consortium of partners, coordinated by the Belgian Royal Military Academy.

INTERPOL is leading the dissemination and outreach efforts of the project, based on the Organization’s existing work in developing standard operating procedures related to C-UAS, and its global law enforcement network.

Law enforcement partners:

  • Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Luxembourg, Romania, Spain.

Research and technology partners:

  • Royal Military Academy, Belgium
  • TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research
  • Center for Security Studies, Greece
  • Military University of Technology, Poland
  • University of Seville, Spain.