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ESD SME Series: Proven Asian Soft-Kill Counter-Drone Solutions for Europe

Interview with Sam Ong, Founder and CEO of TRD Systems, by Curtis Hand

If attending any number of international security and defence events around the world over the past dozen years, you will have seen the ORION (named after the famous hunter in Greek mythology) from Singapore-based TRD on stands as a leading soft-kill counter-drone system.  It is the world’s first 9-band handheld drone disruptor. ORION-H9 can be integrated with a mobile console to work as a system of systems and also with a training simulator to use for training without flying actual drones.  As its distinct shape remaining constant, the technology inside continues to advance as drones develop more advanced self-protection technology. ESD had a chance to speak with the ever-innovative Mr Sam Ong, Founder and CEO of TRD Systems.

By Curtis Hand

Sam Ong, Founder and CEO of TRD Systems (Photo: TRD Systems)

Mr Ong’s credentials are impressive, which include: 25 years with the Singapore Army; a stint at the US Marine Corps Warfighting lab; Singapore MOD System Engineering and Senior Programme Management graduate; and, a Master of Science degree in  Defense Technology from the famous Royal Military College of Science at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom.

ESD:      How and why did TRD come into being?

Ong:      TRD first started as a security consultancy service provider in 2011, and one of its projects was to protect a sacred location against drone attacks. Through that experience and the founder’s military background, TRD began to design and produce its line of counter-drone disruptors in Singapore. The latest generation of TRD’s flagship handheld drone disruptor, ORION-H9, is the world’s first 9-band drone disruptor that can defeat commercial, DIY and certain military-grade drones/UAVs as well. 28 Countries, including some in EMEA, already use TRD’s ORION Counter-Drone systems. TRD’s mission is to make life safer for everyone.

ESD: What defines TRD as being unique in the counter-drone market?

Ong:      “Innovative Products and Solutions” – TRD is a pioneer in the counter-drones industry; we developed our first product in 2015 and have not stopped ever since. We constantly update and improve our products to keep up with evolving drone threats, such as kamikaze drones, with a full range of counter-drone solutions known as ORION-I. We are soon launching the next generation of our flagship networked handheld drone disruptor together with handheld detection integrated with a mobile C2, again another world first.

TRD is well known for fast-track delivery. Despite being an SME, we managed to deliver 11 ORION-I integrated counter-drone vehicles mounted with full suite systems to an ASEAN customer within 8 months.

Also, we believe in sharing our knowledge and experience through various forums, like participating in industry conferences and events. We regularly organize workshops and live demonstrations for our customers to assure them of the capability of the systems and to make informed decisions. Seeing is believing.

ORION-H9 is the latest generation of TRD’s flagship handheld counter drone solution. The ORION-H series has been sold to more than 28 countries globally. (Photo: TRD Systems)

ESD:      What makes TRD’s solution necessary for the Europe-Middle East (EMEA) region?

Ong:      Globally, not just in EMEA, we see an increase in drone threats. However, because of EMEA’s proximity to “Hot Zones”, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, we also see many reports of European airport operations being disrupted due to drones flying into restricted zones. It has become necessary for government agencies or organizations in this region to protect themselves against such threats. TRD has a full suite of proven solutions ranging from handheld systems to vehicle-mounted and fixed-site systems, integrating a series of active and passive detection sensors with advanced soft-kill components with an integrated command and control system. We can customize solutions to suit specific operational scenarios, requirements and budgets.

ESD: Where does TRD have European sales and services offices?

Ong:      TRD currently doesn’t have any sales office in Europe, but we are supported by sales representatives based in Germany and 6 partners around the region. We have already delivered several small-scale projects, including one fixed-site solution to a customer in Western Europe, and we have recently been awarded another $2M contract from a customer from Eastern Europe. We have plans to set up an office in Europe in 2024 to support the growing business.

ESD:      Which of your security or defence customers best exemplifies the benefits of working with TRD? 

Ong:      We believe in building long-term relationships with our customers. Our biggest customers are in Singapore, where TRD is based and in Thailand, where we have a regional office to support our efforts. When a market grows and becomes significant, we are always prepared to set up a local office to support and continue to grow the market. The local office will provide pre-sales demonstration and evaluation, training, and after-sales support so customers get a local touch point and support. TRD strives to provide every customer with advanced technology and become a trusted partner with proven solutions.

ESD:      How does this compare to working with a European customer?

Ong:      TRD is still in the developing stages for the European market with some success. We are still trying to establish ourselves in the region and are actively looking for opportunities to integrate with European systems to offer full-suite solutions to customers. Equally important, we are focused on growing our business through partnerships with established European companies and hope to build a European base for TRD.

ORION- I Vehicle from TRD is a full-suite, integrated solution mounted on a vehicle. It consists of radars, RF detection systems and a drone disruptor linked to a command and control system, all integrated into the vehicle. This solution can also be configured for other types of platforms and even on ships. (Photo: TRD Systems)

ESD:      What can we in Europe look forward to in the future from TRD?

Ong:      Six European countries have been using TRD’s drone disruptors since 2019. TRD will be more active in Europe to introduce our advanced soft-kill solutions, participating in events and exhibitions such as presenting at the Counter UAS Homeland Security conference in London in September and Milipol Paris in November. We are in talks with European companies for partnership and technology cooperation opportunities. You can expect to see more of our innovative ORION Counter-Drone solutions, so look out for us.

ESD:      Thank you, sir, for your expert insights.