Fostering Security

HENSOLDT Security Solutions

Xpeller counter-UAV system

Wildlife Protection

In light of technical advances, the boundaries between military defence and civil security – previously regarded as separate markets – are becoming increasingly blurred. Wherever shared technological challenges and customer needs are paramount, HENSOLDT bridges the gap with its innovative and variable portfolio of security solutions for a vast array of requirements. These help identify threats at an early stage and resolve the hybrid conflicts of the future, thereby protecting people and wildlife, events, and critical infrastructure. As it pursues its goal of becoming a European champion, HENSOLDT often already provides a vital lift to security around the world.

Security Business of HENSOLDT

Greater Security
for People and Wildlife

In its Security Solutions division, HENSOLDT combines a number of different technologies across seven business areas to protect people and wildlife, large-scale events, borders, and critical infrastructure. To this end, HENSOLDT utilizes its proven military technologies and transfers them to related security segments.

Diagram Security Business
The Drone Hunter

The Drone Hunter

Unmanned aerial vehicles are becoming increasingly smaller, faster and more effective – and increasingly a serious threat to security in the air and on the ground. With Xpeller, HENSOLDT is fighting back.

There are more than 400,0001 drones in Germany alone. Many of these are mini or micro drones that are freely available and can be flown without any training or certification. With the increasing number of unmanned aircraft systems (“UASs”), we are also witnessing a rise in the number of incidents in controlled airspace. In 2020, more than 500 incidents at airports2 were reported in European airspace – and some such incidents, like the 2018 interference in the Christmas flight operations at London Gatwick, led to costly closures lasting several hours.

At the same time, technical capabilities of drones are constantly evolving. Drones are becoming smaller, faster, and more manoeuvrable. On a single flight, larger drones can now carry loads of up to 150 kilograms, whether passengers, drugs, or other dangerous substances. New and more intelligent drones are coming onto the market every day, along with modified, homemade, and military drones. Operated via mobile communication networks, they are able to cover huge distances.

And, last but not least, criminals have also discovered the potential of drones. Whether used for political ends or even to smuggle drugs as part of organized crime, drones are set to become a genuine threat. This is illustrated by two incidents that made the headlines in 2021: In September, a drone discharged several liters of flammable liquid over a police building in Minsk, Belarus. In November, the Iraqi prime minister narrowly survived an attack carried out by a bomb-carrying drone at his official residence.

As such, drones represent a security threat to major events, power lines, industrial facilities, and to military/civilian facilities if they get into the wrong hands. Drones in flight paths can shut down entire airports.
Conventional geofencing technologies do not provide reliable protection against these kinds of drone-related incidents, partly because such technologies can be bypassed. Therefore, the risks can only be truly minimized with perimeter security that fits the individual situation and site characteristics.

For precisely this purpose, HENSODLT has developed scalable multisensor solutions that can be deployed in a variety of configurations, depending on the drone type, situation, site conditions, and concept of operation. The Xpeller counter-UAV system uses existing and proven HENSOLDT technologies – and combines radars, cameras, and radio detectors. A powerful software program and AI image analysis algorithms for airspace surveillance gather and process the information required to detect and track drones. What’s more, Xpeller can also initiate and carry out the necessary countermeasures, which may involve jamming the radio signal via which the drone is operated. It may also mean locating the pilot – or even launching its own drones to capture the hostile drones in a net.

As a reflection of the continuous technological advancement of drones, Xpeller is updated on an ongoing basis to meet new requirements. First launched in 2019, this successful system already comprises multiple applications for stationary, mobile, and (since 2021) portable use that can be complemented with additional sensors on a modular basis. Even small “hobby drones” can be recognized and captured at distances of several kilometres, drone pilots located and detained, and larger drones forced to land through interference of their control channel, thereby making airspace considerably more secure.

1 German Aviation Association (BDL)

2 DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH

NATO assigns drones to one of three categories by weight, maximum operating altitude (above ground level [AGL]), and line of sight (LOS), with Xpeller specializing in Class 1 drones. Within this category, drones are split into

  • micro drones with a weight of less than 2 kg, up to 200 ft AGL, and 5 km LOS
  • mini drones with a weight of 2–20 kg, up to 3,000 ft AGL, and 25 km LOS
  • small drones with a weight of more than 20 kg, up to 5,000 ft AGL, and 50 km LOS
  • Class 2 drones weigh up to 600 kilograms, whereas Class 3 drones weigh more than 600 kilograms. Class 3 drones are mostly used for military purposes.
    Security Solutions

    Ensuring Prehistoric Creatures
    Have a Future

    In South Africa, the world’s largest white rhino farm is kept under surveillance using a specially developed HENSOLDT system – with success, as not a single rhino has been poached in the last four years.

    Weighing up to 3.5 metric tons, rhinos are the largest land mammals after elephants. Despite their weight, these plant-eating mammals can reach speeds of up to 55 kmh. However, they only do so when absolutely necessary: They are much happier when looking after their young, enjoying mud baths, and reproducing.

    The greatest threat facing these gentle giants is their horn, which is primarily made of keratin, the same material that human fingernails are made of.
    This horn is what makes rhinos one of the most endangered species on the planet. Their horns are ground down into powder in Asia, where they are believed to have various healing properties, including a potency-enhancing effect. However, none of these properties have ever been scientifically proven. Nonetheless, the population has declined from about 500,000 rhinos at the start of the 20th century to roughly 27,000. Due to the destruction of their natural habitat and the ever-increasing threat posed by poaching, three of the world’s five rhino species are in critical danger of extinction. And unlike many other wild animals, they do not defend themselves against approaches or attacks by humans.

    In South Africa – where some 80 percent of all rhinos live – more than 1,000 rhinos a year were killed between 2013 and 2017 alone. Since 2018, however, South Africa has made considerable progress in terms of protecting one of the world’s few remaining prehistoric creatures. A plan was implemented to increase the population at the world’s largest rhino farm – the Buffalo Dream Ranch – by 215 rhino young a year. And this has been successfully achieved. What’s more, not a single rhino has been poached there in the last four years, meaning that the farm is now home to 2,000 rhinos in an area spanning 8,000 hectares.

    This has been made possible by state-of-the-art HENSOLDT technology. The specially developed HENSOLDT Security Solutions System keeps watch over the rhinos themselves, as well as the ranch and the surrounding areas, using day-and-night cameras, radar technology, and sensors. As a result, poachers are detected before they even enter the reserve and get close to the animals. This means that rangers no longer have to wait until they hear a shot or an alarm before going to investigate. Instead, the poachers can be stopped as they attempt to enter protected areas. The rangers are therefore no longer hunting poachers, but rather saving animals.

    This represents a blueprint for the ongoing fight against poaching at all nature reserves and national parks, i.e., sensible interaction between rangers and state-of-the-art technologies.

    Interview Broekman

    “Thanks to HENSOLDT technologies,
    we can save animals instead of hunting poachers”

    Stefran Broekman has been combating the poaching of wild animals such as rhinos, elephants, and lions in South Africa for more than a decade. He was Head of Security at the Buffalo Dream Ranch (BDR) when the HENSOLDT technologies were installed at the reserve, and is therefore well versed in the use of such technologies to protect wild animals. He has witnessed first-hand how poaching has changed dramatically over the years and shared his experiences with us.

    What made you become a ranger?

    My love of the wilderness and the animals that live there. I started out at the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in 2010/11, which is where poaching really took off. It is something that I still fight against every single day. Anyone who has ever worked as a ranger simply can’t do anything else.

    How has poaching changed in recent years?

    These days, poaching is a 24/7 undertaking. At first, poachers only used to be active during the day; they then started using the full moon and now operate around the clock. In 2013, I found myself standing next to 60 dead rhinos – not because we hadn’t done our job, but because the poachers were so effective. Nowadays, we are dealing with heavily armed poachers. Whereas we used to set off with just a gun and a bottle of water, it is also now a matter of life and death for us, too. We therefore need to add other instruments to our tool kit if we are to combat poaching effectively.

    Why can’t the problem of poaching be brought under control?

    This is due to a mixture of social conditions and political lethargy. We are engaged in court proceedings where the crimes were committed six or seven years ago. Accused poachers are often not convicted, because the cases can simply not be proven. They sometimes fail for trivial reasons, like the lack of a decent DNA sample on the weapon. This makes poaching a crime that comes with low risks, but high rewards. In Mozambique, there is a saying that is applied to poaching: “I’m going to get rich without working, but I might die without being sick.” That says it all.

    What has to change in order to combat poaching effectively?

    Laws have to be enforced in a robust way. We also have to be more proactive in how we tackle the problem: A ranger has already lost the fight if they only find the poachers after the rhino, elephant, or lion is dead. We have to change our approach, which is exactly where the HENSOLDT technologies come in: Ee no longer need to wait until we hear a shot being fired or an alarm going off; instead, we can prevent poachers from entering protected areas in the first place. The technology allows us to react more swiftly; in turn, this enables us to save animals instead of hunting poachers who already have their haul.

    Why are technologies such as those from HENSOLDT not used more frequently?

    First of all, it is not easy to find a technology that works reliably despite dust, moisture, and heat. What’s more, the money often isn’t there. The majority of the rhino population is on private land – and many of these technologies are not affordable for private individuals, as we are talking about military-grade equipment. HENSOLDT was the first company to say, “Let’s do this together.”

    Why are you fascinated by rhinos?

    Rhinos are intelligent and laid-back animals that have everything it takes to survive. They are robust, straightforward, and can reproduce without any problems. The dilemma is that they have poor eyesight, fixed sleeping times, enjoy mud baths, and – unlike lions and other wild animals – do not defend themselves against attacks. It’s easy to get close to them, which is why we need to protect them. As I always say, we need to let the rhinos do what they do.

    Do you think that poaching can be stopped?

    Definitely. There are enough people who fight against poaching every single day; people who have devoted their lives to the fight against poaching. Public awareness has also considerably reduced the amount of poaching by shining a spotlight on the problem. By the same token, however, we need to be careful: Rhinos are just the beginning. Poachers are already targeting elephants in some national parks. In the Kruger National Park, for instance, 70 elephants were poached once there were no rhinos left. If we don’t nip the problem in the bud, the poachers will just move onto other species.

    Interview Muller

    “We are the eyes that never sleep”

    As Chief Executive, Werner Muller is responsible for Spectrum Monitoring and Security at HENSOLDT South Africa. Since 2017, he has been focusing more closely on protecting wildlife with HENSOLDT technologies.

    How did the company’s commitment to wildlife protection emerge?

    A few years ago, we were visited by potential customers who were interested in a very different kind of HENSOLDT solution. One of the visitors told us about problems with poaching and said, with audible desperation in his voice, that the day will come when they will have to load the last rhino onto a truck and the species will never be seen again in the wild. This moved us to such an extent that we made a project proposal to the Buffalo Dream Ranch in South Africa the very next morning. And this is how the use of HENSOLDT technologies in the battle against poaching was born.

    Did you not encounter any scepticism on the part of the anti-poaching community?

    There were reservations, of course. The team at the Buffalo Dream Ranch were fed up with organizations never keeping their promises and never delivering. It is also important to point out that it is far from straightforward to integrate advanced technical solutions in the concept of operations for wildlife protection. We are operating here in the most remote wilderness and have to contend with challenges such as ambiguous borders, a lack of electricity, etc. But this is exactly why HENSOLDT was so predestined to help – we simply have all these fields of expertise in-house. Thanks to our radar experts, we are easily able to distinguish between the detection of people and animals. And our AI experts extract additional information from the images. Other employees focus on the question of how we can recruit even more supporters, put the topic on the public agenda, and raise more funds. In other words, it was a genuine team effort. The anti-poaching community now recognizes us as a key partner in the field of wildlife protection, partly because they know that we are passionate about the cause.

    How can HENSOLDT technology help in the fight against poaching?

    The fight against poaching will always be an interplay between people and technology. Rangers will always be needed on the ground. With our technologies, however, we can make their job much easier and more effective. Our technology provides them with information that they did not previously have. We are the eyes that never sleep.

    Is it possible to measure the effects of the technology?

    You bet! The system was installed at Buffalo Dream Ranch five years ago. Prior to that, poacher attacks would occur every month, sometimes even every week. Ever since we have been using HENSOLDT technology, not a single rhino at the reserve has fallen prey to poachers. The aim was to increase the population by 215 rhino young every year – a target that we have achieved at the Buffalo Dream Ranch. Today, the population stands at more than 2,000 rhinos. This is probably the largest white rhino population anywhere in the world, as poaching still continues at all other locations.

    What does the project say about HENSOLDT?

    We had the right idea at the right time. Thomas Müller and Celia Pelaz brought about a genuine culture shift. They both came to South Africa at the time to see the project for themselves. This was phenomenal and gave us considerable momentum for further projects. We can and should take care of these projects now, even if they are not blockbusters in terms of sales and profit. These would also be the wrong motivations. You can only make the projects a success if you handle them with care and integrity. And this is what we are doing. Everything came together at the right time.

    What does this project mean to people and to you personally?

    For some people, they are just rhinos. Others become very emotional when they hear about the project. We are all familiar with those decisive moments in life. For me, one such moment was the day on which it dawned on me that I could potentially witness the end of rhinos and lions in my lifetime. In my opinion, it is our duty to help. Otherwise, there will simply be nothing left for future generations. That’s why I ask myself every day what I can do to stop this from happening. There is a phrase that we should all keep in mind: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing.” And that’s the point.

    Will rhinos survive in the wild?

    It’s down to us. If we can continue to bring together the right people, employ technology more frequently in the fight against poaching, and raise awareness for the urgency of the situation, we can succeed. That’s why we are supporting the fight against poaching and working with people who champion the cause day in, day out. Ultimately, it is a team effort; each and every one of us and every single organization can get involved in order to bring about change that will last long beyond our lifetimes.

    Buffalo Dream Range

    Gigants of Silent Terrain

    The Polar Bear Warning Radar (“PoWR”) developed by HENSOLDT protects this endangered species – and also keeps people in the Arctic safe from hungry polar bears.

    Over the course of millennia, polar bears have adapted to the unique conditions of the Arctic. Today, they have come to symbolize climate change, with their habitat and hunting grounds dwindling. Their hunger often drives them into settlements, where encounters with inhabitants often prove fatal for the bears, especially as previous polar bear alert programs only issued warnings once visual contact was established. This is almost always too late to be able to drive away the bears in an animal-friendly manner.

    But a solution is now on the horizon. In keeping with its motto “detect and protect,” HENSOLDT has developed the Polar Bear Warning Radar (“PoWR”). This system detects polar bears at a distance of several kilometers from the settlements, helping to warn people at an early stage and thereby protecting local people. Fitted with a day-vision and thermal-imaging camera, the SPEXER 360 radar offers a 360-degree panoramic view; it works around the clock under extreme weather conditions, even in the low-contrast setting of a snow-covered landscape, and can be operated remotely via a software program.

    Following initial test runs in Greenland, the technology is now being enhanced in partnership with the non-profit organization Polar Bears International (“PBI”). Polar Bears International is committed to protecting polar bears in Canada and the Arctic (including Svalbard/Spitsbergen, Russia, and Alaska). The first project phase got underway in October 2021 in the small Canadian town of Churchill. The town is well known in Canada and beyond, as hundreds of polar bears congregate here every summer. The system is now being applied here, with the AI algorithms currently being trained by the HENSOLDT Analytics team.

    On the basis of the insights already gained, the next stage will see the development of bear-friendly protective measures, with further installations in the Arctic – including in Norway – set to follow. The aim being to protect these giant creatures and the people of the Arctic circle.

    Interview Kehrer

    “It was perfectly clear that i had to,
    and wanted to, make a difference”

    At HENSOLDT, Frank Kehrer is Design Engineer and responsible for the project management of various construction groups in the Digital Hardware Development department. Prior to that, he spent several years in the German army and completed a degree in electrical engineering, which included a master’s thesis at Airbus. Fascinated by the Arctic and its exotic wildlife, Frank Kehrer has already been to Spitsbergen on many occasions, where he has observed polar bears in their natural habitat.

    What gave you the idea of using HENSOLDT technology to protect polar bears?

    I love the Arctic, the Arctic climate, and the fascinating people and animals who live there. On one of my visits, I witnessed how a polar bear died whilst being driven away by a helicopter. As a development engineer at the global market leader for sensor technology, I asked myself a couple of questions: Could this not be prevented using HENSOLDT technology? Can we not protect endangered species more effectively? It was perfectly clear that I had to, and wanted to, make a difference.

    Why are you fascinated by polar bears?
    What particular characteristic of polar bears would you like to have?

    The polar bear is one of our last surviving giants. What fascinates me is the simplicity and the silence that it experiences all alone out there, under such hostile climatic conditions.

    How does it feel now that the technology is about to go into operation?

    A feeling beyond words. I will do everything in my power to ensure that I am there when the device is installed in Longyearbyen. To return to the place where the idea first came to me two years later will inspire me to do so much more.

    How have people reacted?

    The idea alone has sparked the excitement of people at HENSOLDT and members of Polar Bears International, but also friends and relatives who have heard about the project. Using HENSOLDT technology for such amazing wildlife protection projects is met with universal excitement and recognition.

    Thomas Müller, HENSOLDT CEO, on the use of HENSOLDT technologies in the field of wildlife protection:

    Here at HENSOLDT, we are committed to a shared goal: We want to protect the freedom and future of our planet, our natural environment, and our way of life with our technologies. So, when Frank Kehrer approached me with his idea, I was immediately excited. Moreover, precisely this spirit is part of our DNA: actively contributing ideas, boldly exploring new avenues, and embracing innovation every single day. We are extremely proud to be able to make a small contribution to protecting endangered species and fostering biodiversity with our technologies. The Polar Bear Warning Radar is one project among many that we are championing in the area of wildlife protection; other projects include the protection of rhinos and the abalone marine snail in South Africa.


    Protecting the
    “White Gold of the Sea”

    A nature reserve on the South African coast is guarded by HENSOLDT technologies, thereby offering protection to the resident abalones.

    Only a handful of people in Europe and the United States will have heard of abalone sea snails. In Asia, on the other hand, many people’s eyes light up when they talk about these peaceful marine creatures, which can grow to sizes of up to 30 centimetres and weigh some two kilograms. Here, they are known as “white gold” and are regarded as a culinary delicacy; when ground down into a powder, they are also believed to be an aphrodisiac. Although they are found on many stretches of coastline in the southern hemisphere, very few of them ever achieve their full size or even their maximum age of 30 years.

    The situation is especially critical in South Africa, where poaching and the illegal trade – often in exchange for drugs – sometimes even leads to shoot-outs. The problem is that abalones are an extremely easy target for poachers, as they usually attach themselves to cliffs close to the shoreline, staying just a few meters below the surface of the water.

    Thanks to HENSOLDT, however, the poachers have been stopped in their tracks. At the Hangklip Conservancy near Cape Town, one of the most diverse coastlines in South Africa, a technology originally developed for border protection guards a nature reserve spanning 50 hectares. The system is part of the Security Solutions portfolio of HENSOLDT, which is designed to protect threatened species, and combines a variety of state-of-the-art sensors including lenses and radars, meaning that all data can be collated in a control centre. Cutting-edge analysis techniques give a full picture of the situation, meaning that potential poachers can be detected and detained at an early stage – and that legal harvesting can be monitored.

    As many people in South Africa harvest the abalones illegally due to economic hardship, HENSOLDT has taken the initiative by joining forces with other investors to plan the setting up of legal abalone farms.