Drones are seeing rapid growth in both commercial and military domains. They are being employed in inspection of high tension electrical towers , fire management missions, delivery of critical supplies like medicine or communications tools, search and rescue and many others. BI Intelligence has predicted that the growth of the market for commercial/civilian drones at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% between 2015 and 2020, compared with 5% growth on the military side.That number is expected to grow as technology improves while costs continue to come down.
However, the increased commercialization is also increasing the risks that these drones can be used by terrorists and criminals. The threat from drones was driven home on international TV in early August 2018 when low-flying devices exploded over a military ceremony in Caracas, Venezuela, just as President Nicolas Maduro was speaking.
The militant organizations have started employing drones to further their terrorism. Jihadi groups fighting the Syrian government – most notably ISIS and Jabhet al-Nusra – are extensively using advanced drones to pinpoint the Syrian Army’s locations, find out about troop’s deployment, and film suicide attacks and propaganda footage. The groups even managed to arm the drones with small bombs usually dropped over gatherings of soldiers or military vehicles. According to reports, Syrian forces deployed Drone Jammers type Battelle DroneDefender used to take down hostile drones by totally disrupting its control system and preventing remote actions – including detonation – to be carried out.
Recent Drone Attacks
The recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s crude oil hub at the Abqaiq and Khurais production facilities reveal that even a nation with a sophisticated military and a massive defense budget is still vulnerable to drone strikes. Middle East analyst Theodore Karasik at Gulf State Analytics told VOA the incident’s security and military implications are huge.
“The gravity is really off the charts. This is literally the oil industry’s 9/11. The targeting of these two facilities was 100-percent successful in delivery of a swarm of cruise missiles and drones. This is the ultimate scenario for taking out energy infrastructure by use of this type of weaponry. The significance of the event itself and the damage done is unprecedented. We are dealing with a rapid escalation in terms of what the responses and counter-responses will be,” he said.
Two Indian soldiers were wounded when two drones dropped explosives on the Indian Air Force base, which is also used as a civilian airport, on June 27, 2021. While the drones were not captured, Indian experts say there is little doubt they originated in Pakistan. India has long blamed Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism for violence by militant groups in Kashmir, a charge Islamabad denies.
Jeffrey Price, a security consultant and an aviation management professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, told VOA that drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia are a “game-changer,” and he sees the drone strike as the “next front of a new war.” “What drones have done is really handed everybody the capability of a standoff strike autonomously and anonymously without any sort of accountability. It’s going to be much harder to find out who is operating these,” Price said.
“That’s the challenge. When you have so much territory to protect and protect it all evenly and equally it’s very difficult to defend, particularly with missiles and drones. They move much faster, particularly the missiles can move much faster than manned aircraft can. Both of them have a much lower radar signature than a standard aircraft would, so it’s really about stepping up all of those defenses to detect these new threats,” he said.
The British Government is reportedly considering plans to deploy military-grade anti-drone equipment after an intrusion by illegal drones caused chaos at two of the busiest airports in the UK. The proposed measures come after drone sightings at Gatwick Airport in December 2018 prompted the airport to halt operations for 36 hours and cancel almost 1,000 flights. Heathrow Airport was also forced to suspend operations for almost an hour when a drone violated the airport’s airspace zone. Plans are also being considered to deploy the technology at other important infrastructure including power stations, prisons, and military sites.
Drone Security threat
These systems could provide U.S. adversaries with a low-cost means of conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions against—or attacking—U.S. forces.
ISIS is reportedly using commercial drones such as DJI Phantom which can be purchased from amazon and attaching small explosives on them. In a written statement, Baroness Anelay of St Johns said: ‘The Government has a range of material, including images, that provides evidence that Daesh (ISIS) has used small, commercially available unmanned aerial vehicles in Syria and Iraq to extend their surveillance capability, produce propaganda material and carry small improvised explosive devices.’ Hizballah has also released footage that supposedly show its drones dropping cluster bombs on Syrian rebel positions.
Federal officials in August 2018 warned police around the country that drones are posing an ever-growing threat to safety and security. Citing the Aug. 4 attack during an appearance of Venezuela’s president, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center issued an intelligence bulletin with the starkest of warnings: “An attack could be conducted by one person or several people using a commercially available, off-the-shelf (drone) to target venues which attract large crowds, such as sporting facilities, concerts, and transportation terminals, or public figures.”
The bulletin, dated Aug. 13 and obtained by ABC News, went on to say “details on building or modifying (drones) by terrorists as a means to deliver a weapon, are available on the internet and online forums, making it feasible for a person with sufficient technical experience or motivation to conduct an attack.”
“The Security Impact of Drones: Challenges and Opportunities for the UK” suggests, that commercial drones could be used by gangs to monitor the movement of police, security guards, or anti-smuggling patrols so as to better plot their criminal mischief. Burglars, train robbers, and poachers could use them as lookouts. In their hands, drones could, fly IEDs through the air to a target, or disperse a biological or chemical agent while its pilot remains safely distanced from contamination.
The small drones such as a quadcopter or model airplane are readily available and it is highly probable that existing technology would allow unfriendly forces to retrofit them, giving the aircraft the ability to deliver weaponized explosives or hazardous materials. “Commercially available (drones) may be used by threat actors to deliver hazardous payloads, including explosives, chemicals, or biological or radiological agents, to conduct an attack, and recent (drone) employment tactics could expand options for potential attackers to conduct precise,” according to the bulletin.
However the current commercial drones are limited in their payload carrying capacity of few pounds, flight times of around 30 minutes and limited range. Heavier payloads diminish range and flight times further. Larger models might be used to carry smuggled goods; something we’ve already seen in Mexican cartels reportedly flying drugs across the border. Alternatively, they could be weaponized.
Drones can also be employed to create mass panic in congested areas like sport arenas. Martinez said even a small drone such as the quadcopter that landed near the White House poses a high potential threat level. “Imagine the media event if it lands on top of the White House and detonates, whether it kills anyone or not,” Martinez said. Martinez emphasized that the seemingly harmless light vehicles could carry a payload of up to six pounds of C4 plastic explosive or multiple fragmentation grenades, giving them the ability to do considerable damage for a small platform. Such an attack could provide a propaganda coup for a terrorist organization by instilling uneasiness in the civilian population even if it inflicted no human casualties.
ISIS has used drones to help guide vehicle-borne IEDs more accurately toward their targets. Some of these same groups have successfully armed drones with explosive ordnance, effectively converting cheap hobby kits into rudimentary yet potentially lethal guided missiles. Last year, ISIS claimed to have carried out more than 200 such attacks in just 12 months.
“I personally believe that the unmanned platform is going to be one of the most important weapons of our age,” Navy Capt. Vincent Martinez, commander of the Navy Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) EOD Technology Division, said. “I’m going to have to start thinking about not only how to diffuse the payload but how I defuse the platform. When I walk up on that platform, is it watching me, is it sensing me, is it waiting for me?”
The US government has issued an alert warning that Chinese-made drones could pose a cyber-espionage risk to American businesses and other organisations that use them. The notice added that those using the flying aircraft for tasks related to national security or critical infrastructure were most at risk. The market-leader DJI said it had taken steps to keep its clients’ data secure. “We give customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted,” the firm said in a statement.
“For government and critical infrastructure customers that require additional assurances, we provide drones that do not transfer data to DJI or via the internet, and our customers can enable all the precautions DHS [Department of Homeland Security] recommends.” DJI accounts for more than 70% of the US market in drones costing more than $500, according to research firm Skylogic.
Drones are also threat to aircrafts. Researchers at the University of Dayton Research Institute are showing what can happen when a small drone strikes the wing of an aircraft. The team mimicked a collision between a 2.1-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and a Mooney M20 aircraft. Video shows the drone ripping through the plane’s wing in conditions that simulate a crash taking place at 238 miles per hour.
“We wanted to help the aviation community and the drone industry understand the dangers that even recreational drones can pose to manned aircraft before a significant event occurs,” said Kevin Poormon, group leader for impact physics at UDRI in a blogpost. “But there is little to no data about the type of damage UAVs can do, and the information that is available has come only from modeling and simulations.”
Drones are difficult to detect, classify and neutralize
Many smaller UASs cannot be detected by traditional air defense systems due to their size, construction material, and flight altitude. As a result, in FY2021, the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to spend at least $404 million on counter-UAS (C-UAS) research and development and at least $83 million on C-UAS procurement.
Their low operational altitude along with small size, small RCS and small IR signature of the UAV makes it a difficult target for most of the common air defense systems such as antiaircraft guns and shoulder-fired IR missiles. The sophistication of commercial drones, is also increasing and require very little input from the pilot.
The detection of low, slow, and small (LSS) unmanned aerial systems (UAS) pose many challenges . In white House incident, the Radar systems designed to detect flying objects such as airplanes, missiles and larger military drones failed to pick up the small two foot diameter quadcopter drone as it entered the restricted area around the White House. Relying on visual observation to detect drones is equally ineffective; at a distance of several hundred feet, drones can become all but invisible to the naked eye.
“Small UASs are rapidly becoming low-cost aerial platforms for hostile reconnaissance, targeting, and weapon delivery. Unlike traditional air targets, small UASs: 1) fly at low altitudes (e.g., < 400 ft) which make them easily hidden by complex terrain, 2) move at slow speeds (e.g., < 90 kts) which make them difficult to differentiate from other movers, and 3) are small in size (e.g., < 55 lbs.) making them difficult to sense,” says DARPA.
Lt. Gen Hooda said the Indian air defense system was not geared to picking up the drones as its radar systems could not detect something flying so low and close to the ground. He said there were two challenges. Firstly, identifying low-flying objects and determining what they are carrying, as many drones are used for commercial purposes. Secondly, bringing down drones identified as hostile. This was not easy as such drones would typically fly close to the ground and could harm others while being neutralized.
Counter-drone technology, also known as counter-UAS, C-UAS, or counter-UAV technology, refers to systems that are used to detect and/or intercept unmanned aircraft. Many C-UAS technologies are being developed from shoulder-mounted launcher system to physically capture it, silent cyber weapon that floors a drone instantly, anti drone cannons, Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) like jamming of command and control links and GPS spoofing, counter drone Directed Energy Weapons both laser based and electromagnetic weapons.
In civilian environments, counter-drone technology has so far primarily been used for airspace protection at airports, security during large events such as party conventions and sports games, VIP protection, and counter-smuggling operations at prisons. Future common applications could include airspace defense around sensitive facilities, port security, maritime security, and personal use over private property.
“There’s literally over 200 different counter-drone technologies — everything from guns to spoofers to jammers, you name it,” said Brett Velicovich, former U.S. soldier and current CEO of Drone Experts, based in Alexandria, Va. “And there’s over 100 manufacturers making these things, but yet there’s not one solution that I could point to and say, ‘Yes, 100 percent that’ll stop a drone from coming in.’ And that’s kind of scary when you think about all the money and brainpower being put towards it.”
For countering the threat of UAS requires three steps
1. Detection – The collection of some phenomenological information captured by a sensor like radar signature, acoustic signature, Photon reflectance, IR signature and RF emission. Some of systems used are Passive visible imagers (UV, visible, NIR), Passive thermal imagers (SWIR, MWIR, LWIR), LIDARS, ESM receivers acoustic sensors and magnetic detection systems.
2. Classification – Analysis of data received in the detection phase, with the goal being to separate real targets from highly cluttered, noisy background data. Classification of LSS UAS, especially classification in the presence of background clutter (e.g., urban environment) or other non-threating targets (e.g., birds), is challenging. No sensor type alone is able to provide sufficient tracking and identification capability to offer a reliable and effective defense against the LSS threat.
3. Neutralization – Once a target is positively identified in the previous step, additional action must be taken to deny mission success, including the potential for target neutralization. Once detected, neutralisation can be achieved by a variety of methods: kinetic force (anti-aircraft guns or sniper rifles), through laser dazzling, Jamming, GPS (Global Positioning System) spoofing (to take control of the UAV), electromagnetic pulses, or by interception using another UAV equipped with jamming equipment.
Counter-drone technology has already seen extensive use in certain applications. On the battlefield, C-UAS systems have so far most commonly been used for base protection, complementing existing weapons such as counter-mortar systems and surveillance platforms. There is also growing interest in portable and mobile systems that could be used to protect ground units and convoys.
Calif. Anduril Industries launched the Interceptor unmanned system as part of the Lattice AI counter Unmanned Aerial System (cUAS) solution intended to detect and interdict unmanned aircraft or autonomous unmanned systems. This system brings Anduril technology to the cUAS mission, providing force protection for military personnel and installations or critical infrastructure.
Whether integrated with Lattice AI or manually cued, company officials say a human operator could verify targets and launch Interceptor unmanned systems to kill rotary or fixed-wing threats autonomously.
UAV detection technologies
C-UAS can employ a number of methods to detect the presence of hostile or unauthorized UAS. The first is using electro-optical, infrared, or acoustic sensors to detect a target by its visual, heat, or sound signatures, respectively. Noise from spinning propellers and electric motors can be detected by acoustic sensors though they have limited range of 100-150 m. This acoustic signature of drone is derived and compared to the database to distinguish the drones from ambient noise and also aid in classification.
A second method is to use radar systems. Radar detects the presence of small unmanned aircraft by their radar signature, which is generated when the aircraft encounters RF pulses emitted by the detection element. These systems often employ algorithms to distinguish between drones and other small, low-flying objects, such as birds. A novel method of UAV detection relies on passive radar technology which uses existing TV signal towers as transmitters. TV-signals are quite powerful and can be detected at long range and also widely available in urban and rural landsscape. Multistatic passive radar can use such signals from many adjacent towers and by applying sophisticated signal processing algorithms can locate and classify drones. They can provide a low cost 24/7 solution.
However, these methods are not always capable of detecting small UAS due to the limited signatures and size of such UAS. A third method is identifying the wireless signals used to control the UAS, commonly using radio frequency sensors. ECM or RF systems Identifies the presence of drones by scanning for the frequencies on which most drones are known to operate. Algorithms pick out and geo-locate RF-emitting devices in the area that are likely to be drones. These methods can be—and often are—combined to provide a more effective, layered detection capability.
Many systems integrate a variety of different sensor types in order to provide a more robust detection capability. For example, a system might include an acoustic sensor that cues an optical camera when it detects a potential drone in the vicinity. The use of multiple detection elements may also be intended to increase the probability of a successful detection, given that no individual detection method is entirely failproof. Combination of Radars, video and thermal imaging systems can provide a useful combination to detect and track drones. The Neural networks could highlight anomalous aerial traffic and help distinguish UAV targets from birds etc.
Drone Interdiction technologies
Once detected, the UAS may be engaged or disabled. Electronic warfare “jamming” can interfere with a UAS’s communications link to its operator. RF Jamming disrupts the radio frequency link between the drone and its operator by generating large volumes of RF output. Once the RF link, which can include WiFi links, is severed, a drone will either descend to the ground or initiate a “return to home” maneuver. WIFI jamming is 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz [WIFI frequencies]. GNSS Jamming Disrupts the drone’s satellite link, such as GPS or GLONASS, which is used for navigation. Drones that lose their satellite link will hover in place, land, or return to home. Jamming devices can be as light as 5 to 10 pounds and therefore man-portable, or as heavy as several hundred pounds and in fixed locations or mounted on vehicles. However, Jamming is illegal in the United States. It can disable other devices and communications methods used by first responders and civil authorities.
UAS can also be neutralized or destroyed using guns, nets, directed energy, traditional air defense systems, or even trained animals such as eagles. Nets Designed to entangle the targeted drone and/or its rotors. Projectile Employs regular or custom-designed ammunition to destroy incoming unmanned aircraft.
Spoofing Allows one to take control of the targeted drone by hijacking the drone’s communications link. (Also known as protocol manipulation.) Laser Destroys vital segments of the drone’s airframe using directed energy, causing it to crash to the ground. However, “spoofing” a drone’s GPS signal can also be a crime under the current language of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. A number of C-UAS systems also employ a combination of interdiction elements—most commonly, RF and GNSS jamming systems that work in tandem.
Shoulder-mounted SkyWall catches illegal drones in a Net
British engineering firm OpenWorks’ has developed a shoulder-mounted launcher system to physically capture an aircraft typically less than 4ft in maximum dimensions from up to 100 m (330 ft) away and control its descent to the ground. The system uses a compressed gas-powered launcher that fires a programmable projectile that deploys a large net at just the right time to capture the drone. The projectile also deploys a parachute that safely brings it back to earth protecting Damage to both the drone and the surrounding area.
The user can take aim at the drone with the help of a so-called SmartScope, which consists of a laser range finder and inertial measurement unit. This calculates both the distance and flight path of the target, and then the trajectory required for a direct hit and informs the user of a target lock via a continuous beep. If the projectile fails to meet its target, the parachute will still deploy and the projectile can be reused. The entire system weighs 10 kg (22 lb) and can be reloaded in eight seconds.
Guns and Ammunition
The three types of guns are:
- Machine guns (5.56-12.7 mm): Machine guns are deemed unsuitable due to poor accuracy and range performance.
- Cannon guns (20-57 mm: ): Cannons are already used in GBAD systems but are only effective against LSS targets using airburst ammunition. Micro UAVs may require significant amounts of ammunition.
- Low fire rate guns (76 mm): Low fire rate guns seem ineffective against LSS targets, particularly
NATO concludes that cannon guns can be effective against LSS targets, particularly with airburst ammunition.
Militaries repackaging existing tech to deal with today’s drone threat.
Raytheon is pitching its C-RAM air defense system as a UAV countermeasure, while Northrop Grumman is altering its G/ATOR air defense system to monitor UAVs, as is Lockheed Martin and its AN/TPQ-53 radar.
US Army unveils anti drone cannon
US Army’s Enhanced Area Protection and Survivability system that was originally intended to shoot down missiles has now being adapted to counter drones. Luciano and his team, working on enhanced area protection and survivability, tested an integrated system on April 22, by shooting down a class 2 unmanned aerial system using command guidance and command warhead detonation at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
The system uses a precision tracking radar interferometer to detect and track UAVs, a fire control computer to perform computations, a radio frequency transmitter and receiver and a standard 50mm cannon to launch the projectile. The Picatinny area-protection systems track both the incoming threat and interceptor, then compute an ideal trajectory correction for the interceptor to maximize probability of mission success.
The prototype uses a readily available 50-millimeter Orbital ATK Bushmaster III cannon to launch command guided interceptors. Then once the shells leave the barrel, a computer beams guidance instructions, telling them where to go and changing their course mid-flight. ‘The computations are done on the ground, and the radio frequency sends the information up to the round.’
The warhead has a tantalum-tungsten alloy liner to form forward propelled penetrators for defeat of C-RAM targets, and steel body fragments to counter unmanned aerial systems. The smaller and smaller the protective area, the more efficient the gun systems become compared to missiles,’ said Manfredi Luciano, the project officer for the EAPS system
Electronic Counter Measures (ECM)
Jamming of the command links between the drone and the command station is one technology that can be used to neutralize the drone, however when flying in autonomous mode jamming is ineffective. EM signals somewhere between 10 kHz and several GHz are transmitted with power between several watts up to gigawatts. Generally do not need precise target location or tracking. The targets for ECM for LSS targets for interfering with any RF receiver including Data and command links, GPS, Mobile cellular, Avionics systems (e.g. altimeters) and AM/FM radio waves. Goal is to prevent successful reception or transmission of data.
The GPS spoofing is another technique that create a series of false coordinates or directions to UAV that can be used to take control of UAV. This defense mechanism was demonstrated in 2012 by a team led by Professor Todd Humphreys at the University of Texas-Austin.
Eagle 108 Advanced Drone Detection and Jamming Technology
Phantom Technologies has launched its latest Jamming Solution designed for the detection and jamming of drones. Eagle 108 Tactical Jammer has been designed to neutralise unauthorised drone / quadcopter that has entered a secured field / campus / sport event.
The system scans using an array of directional antennas, a passive detection with no radar. Once a threat is detected, an automatic command to the jamming unit blocks all radio communication channels. Forcing the drone to drift away and lose communication with its operator. The detection radius is more than 1km and jamming radius is up to 2km.
Radio Wave Gun Disables Drones From A Mile Away
Sydney and Virginia-based DroneShield, recently introduced its DroneGun, which works by jamming the radio frequency signal in a drone to wrest control away from its remote pilot, and to land the drone safely on the ground away from its target area.
The 13-lb (6-kg) radio wave gun operates over two common signal frequencies (2.4 and 5.8 GHz), and fires jamming signals via a lightweight battery backpack carried by a single person more than a mile away. It also blocks the drone’s video and global positioning satellite (GPS) transmission, so that the drone’s built-in safety feature of automatic landing is triggered after being disabled, preventing the original operator to regain control.
“Most modern drones are equipped with a protocol that they come back to their operator when the radio frequency signal is jammed, and land when radio frequency and GPS are both jammed,” company spokesman Mr. Oleg Vornik told Mail Online. “The jammer doesn’t control the drone, it’s an automatic response from the drones themselves.” The DroneGun technology “allows for a controlled management of drone payload such as explosives without damaging common models or the surrounding environment,” adds Vornik.
China’s SZMID highlights handheld C-UAV system
Shen Zhou Ming Da High Technology Co Ltd (SZMID), a Beijing-based company has launched the DZ-02 Pro, that is intended to counter commercial multirotor and small fixed-wing UAVs, and can disrupt satellite navigation signals – BeiDou Galileo, GLONASS, and GPS systems – as well as RF communications in the 1.56 Mhz–1.62 GHz, 2.4–2.483 GHz, and 5.725–5.85 GHz wavelengths up to a maximum range of 1 km.
The system weighs 4.8 kg including the battery and has an overall length of 750 mm with its adjustable stock retracted, a height of 300 mm including the optical sight, and a thickness of 60 mm. It comprises a single RF antenna featuring a vertical and horizontal V-plane of 60° and a total power output of 15 W with this distributed evenly among its three RF channels.
According to SZMID, the DZ-02 Pro is designed to cause a target to hover in place until its power is depleted or activate its return-home protocol. The DZ-02 Pro can operate in sustained jamming mode for up to 60 minutes via its 12V 10Ah lithium ion battery and requires up to 90 minutes.
The company has also developed an integrated C-UAV product called the Auto Anti-Drone System, which provides a persistent small UAV detection, locating, and disruption capability.
World’s First Fully Integrated Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) Now Features Quad Band RF Inhibitor And Optical Disruptor
The world’s first fully integrated detect-track-disrupt Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) – launched by a trio of British companies features a quad band radio frequency (RF) inhibitor/jammer, an optical disruptor and rapid deployment features in the final production version of the market leading counter-drone system.
The quad band inhibitor enables the AUDS operator to disrupt the different licensed telemetry bands of commercial drones no matter where in the world they are designed and licensed for use. For example, both the 433 and 915 MHz frequencies commonly used by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can be disrupted as can the 2.4 GHz control band and the global satellite (GNSS) bands.
The new optical disruptor is yet another tool available to the AUDS operator. This feature can be utilised for both pointing at a drone for identification purposes and disrupting the automatic gain control settings in the drone’s camera system such that the operator loses visibility. The optical disruptor can also provide a very precise identification of known UAV launch activity to any ground forces.
Commenting on the new features, Colin Bullock, CEO, Enterprise Control Systems, said: “Carefully controlled disruption of these command links – and the use of the optical disruptor – significantly impairs the operator’s ability to control the drone and forms a key part of the spectrum of techniques used by the AUDS system to mitigate the malicious use of drones.”
The AUDS system, developed by Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics and Enterprise Control Systems, is designed to combat the growing threat of malicious micro, mini and larger unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones. The system can detect a drone five miles (8 km) away using electronic scanning radar, track it using infrared and daylight cameras and specialist software before disrupting the flight using an inhibitor to block the radio signals that control it.
The Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) integrates the Blighter A400 Series Ku band electronic scanning air security radar, Chess Dynamics’ stabilised electro-optic director, infrared and daylight cameras and target tracking software, and a directional radio frequency (RF) inhibitor from Enterprise Control Systems to detect, track, classify, disrupt and neutralise UAVs at ranges of up to 8km. The AUDS system is even effective against so-called Group 1 micro UAVs at ranges of up to 2km and Group 1 mini UAVs at ranges of several kms.
Other improvements in the production version of the AUDS system include a new positioner for the camera. And, following a whole series of trials in a variety of different terrains, the team has modularised the system to reduce the single lift weight down to 25 kg. All the different elements – radar, cameras, and RF inhibitor – now clip together to form a complete system.
The AUDS system is designed for countering drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in remote border sites or urban areas. It can be operated from fixed locations and from mobile platforms. It has been developed and manufactured in the UK using British technology and a production version is available now at COTS prices starting at less than £800k.
UK defense firm unveils electromagnetic anti-drone defense shield
UK defense company Selex ES unveiled its sophisticated anti-drone defense system, the Falcon Shield that provides protection from both mini- and micro-sized unmanned aircraft systems. It was designed for a military customer looking to protect soldiers, convoys, and bases from the evolving threat of weaponized drones.
During its presentation, Selex ES did not divulge the details of its proprietary technology but did confirm that it takes advantage of the electromagnetic spectrum to create a shield around a protected area. The system uses a network of camera and radar surveillance sensors that can discretely detect and track a drone in a variety of environments, including “high-clutter urban canyons.”
Besides detecting, the system has an attack capability that allows the user to disrupt the drone using jamming technology, or even hijack the controls to reroute it away from a target. The system also has provisions for a conventional attack possibly using projectiles, such as bullets.
Cyber Attacking a Drone
The best practice for cyber-attacking a drone, Duncan Woodbury, a former researcher and remote systems contractor said, is to “come up with a prepackaged set of exploits that target the wireless protocol they use and the operating system they use. And if there’s an app that does telemetry between a mobile phone and the drone, that’s another viable target. And if there’s a communications link between the drone and the manufacturer’s server, that’s a target. And if there’s a video server or image server on the drone to capture pictures, that’s another target.”
US Army’s silent cyberweapon flooring a drone instantly
Army Cyber Institute at West Point in the US, has built a cyber-rifle to take down a drone, causing it to lose power instantly in flight before falling out of the air. It was tested in front of the US Secretary for Defense, Ash Carter. It uses a Wi-Fi radio, an antenna and a Raspberry Pi computer to send out a radio signal to the drone, telling it to shut off its power. The technology was on display at a military exposition in October last year, where a version of the weapon was made from just $150 worth of readily available components.
Captain Brent Chapman, a research Scientist at the Army Cyber Institute who designed the weapon previously told Popular Mechanics: ‘It was something that we built in order to illustrate the power of enabling the soldiers at the tactical level to ‘make’ in support of a mission.’ At the end of last year, details emerged of the ‘DroneDefender’, created by US firm Columbus-based Battelle Innovations that uses radio pulses to halt a radio-controlled Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in mid-air from as far as 1,312ft (400 metres).
Hacker-drone that can wirelessly hijack & control other drones
The drone platform called SkyJack created by samy Kamkar uses WiFi to detect other Parrot drones in its range. It then injects WiFi packets into the victim drone’s connection, making it de-authenticate from its remote controller, usually a smartphone, and authenticate in its place, taking it under control. The flying hacker is relatively cheap and quite simple to build.
This technology can be used to neutralize terrorist’s drones while the misuse of small UAV’s such as the Parrot by criminal or terrorist elements is a potential threat.
US MOD Counter drone projects
C-UAS is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s six-layer air and missile defense concept, composed of (1) Ballistic, Low-Altitude Drone Engagement (BLADE), (2) Multi-Mission High-Energy Laser (MMHEL), (3) Next-Generation Fires Radar, (4) Maneuver Air Defense Technology (MADT), (5) High-Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL-TVD), and (6) LowCost Extended Range Air Defense (LOWER AD). Although these systems are still in development, the Army has fielded some man-portable, vehicle-mounted, and airborne C-UAS systems.
The three companies – Aurora Flight Sciences, ELTA North America, and XTEND – were invited to the demonstration after they were selected through an RFI released in January 2021. This follows the DoD release of its C-sUAS Strategy, also in January, which provided the framework for addressing sUAS across the spectrum from hazards to threats in the homeland, host nations, and contingency locations.
According to the company, Aurora’s Modular Intercept Drone Avionics Set (MIDAS) is an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled, multi-rotor sUAS outfitted with optical sensors and a customized payload that can defeat multiple sUAS per flight with low-collateral effects. An autonomous solution, MIDAS is cued from ground radar and locks on with its onboard sensor.
The ELTA North America team demonstrated their Drone-Kill-Drone (DKD) system, which they say is 100 percent autonomous from launch to intercept. The system needs no human intervention other than the command to launch. DKD uses a combination of onboard processing, autonomous flight control, and optical target lock to strike the target while in flight. It contains an entanglement net of cut-resistant wires that spring-release during flight and entangle rotors for an extremely high kill rate. DKD is modular and scalable to carry additional effector payloads and can be integrated to accept cues from drone detection sensors or Command and Control (C2) systems.
Dean Nohe, senior director of business development for ELTA North America. “The DKD takes the network or sensor feed and assigns the right drone to the right threat. Once it gets close to the target, there’s on-board processing and on-board AI that enables an optical target lock and continues the autonomous guidance to the drone until interception.” XTEND described their SKYLORD GRIFFON system as a C-sUAS platform that allows operators with no flight experience to intercept aerial threats. The system can seamlessly interface with most detection or C2 systems and uses augmented reality to enable the operators to “immerse” themselves in countering sUAS.
The Air Force is testing high-powered microwaves and lasers—both forms of directed energy—for C-UAS missions. For example, in October 2019, the Air Force received delivery of a vehicle-mounted C-UAS prototype—the High-Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS)—that
will undergo a year-long overseas field test. HELWS is intended to identify and neutralize hostile or unauthorized UAS in seconds and, when connected to a generator, to provide “a nearly infinite number of shots.”
The Marine Corps funds a number of C-UAS systems through its Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) program office. For example, in 2019, the Corps completed overseas tests of the Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS), which employs jamming and guns. The system
can be mounted on MRZR all-terrain vehicles, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, and other platforms. In July 2019, Marines aboard the USS Boxer (LHD-4) used MADIS to neutralize an Iranian UAS that was deemed to be within “threatening range” of the ship. As part of GBAD,
the Marine Corps is also procuring the Compact Laser Weapons System (CLaWS), the first DOD-approved ground-based laser. This system—which reportedly comes in variants of 2-, 5-, and 10-kilowatts—is also in use by the Army.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funds technology development programs for CUAS such as CounterSwarmAI, which is to “develop systems for anticipating and defeating autonomous systems of the future,” and the Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System for ship-based point defense.
Army, Air Force Fielding Drone-Hunting System That Can Fit on a Pickup Truck
SRC’s Silent Archer® technology integrates to deliver a complete, end to-end counter-unmanned aircraft system (CUAS) solution designed for critical defense and security applications.
“We have a system-of-systems approach to counter-UAS,” Bob Alger, the company’s director of business development said. “We have equipment that does detect, decide and defeat, so it’s really the whole kill chain for counter-UAS.” The system elements, all designed to be man-portable, include an air surveillance radar system, an electronic warfare (EW) suite, a direction-finding unit and an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) camera, a 3-D user display that helps to positively identify drone threats, Electronic warfare (EW) systems, and to defeat hostile drones, whether a lone target or a UAS swarm.
Air surveillance radar, electronic warfare and direction finding systems scan the airspace for low, slow and small (LSS) airborne targets, collecting information such as 3-D location, radio frequency signature, and more. Together, these technologies accurately detect, track and identify hostile UAS for making effective decisions regarding threats. Combined, these systems provide spatial, frequency and optical surveillance capabilities to detect, track, classify and identify the airborne threat.
The combination of radar signature data and electronic surveillance information is sufficient for positive identification of UAS targets.
Identification can then be further enhanced through the use of an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera for visual identification. With the visual identification being made, the operator can confidently decide on which, if any, actions must be taken against the threat.
Once a UAS has been identified as hostile, the operator has the option of engaging it in a variety of low-cost, low-risk ways with the EW system, such as jamming the communication links of the UAS, causing it to return to its base station or perform an emergency landing.
The same techniques work against UAS swarms, since jamming of the RF band can defeat multiple targets simultaneously. If electronic methods are insufficient, the operator can cue a weapon system to defeat the non cooperative target.
Alger said SRC is currently working to integrate the EW equipment, the camera and eventually the radar on a vehicle like the Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle or even a Ford F-250 pickup truck. “You can start driving, and you can do the counter-UAS mission while you’re driving,” he said.
SRC has successfully demonstrated the ability for Silent Archer anti-drone technology to detect, track, identify and defeat UAS at U.S. government-sponsored counter-UAS test events like JIAMDO’s Black Dart, the Army Warfighting Assessment (AWA), Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), and Maneuvers and Fires Integrated Exercise (MFIX).
Smart Shooter said its SMASH fire control solution will be evaluated in the NATO exercise that will be carried out under the alliance’s Defense Against Terrorism Program of Work (DAT POW) initiative. The company is a world-class designer and developer of systems that significantly increase the accuracy and lethality of small arms. NATO’s DAT POW is aimed at developing technologies to detect, disrupt and defeat terrorists by sharing innovations to protect civilians, troops and critical infrastructure.
SMASH is a combat-proven solution for small arms that ensures each round finds its target. With a unique “One Shot – One Hit” capability, SMASH allows the operator to quickly and effectively neutralize any ground or airborne target, manned or unmanned. According to company officials, it is a cost-effective solution that can be integrated onto any type of assault rifle, as well as combined with other C-UAS systems, to provide an effective multi-layer defense solution suitable for the modern battlefield.
SMASH’s proprietary target acquisition and tracking algorithms are integrated with sophisticated image-processing software into a rugged hardware solution that enables automatic detection, tracking, and effective engagement of UAVs. Bringing precision-missile targeting algorithms and advanced electro-optical processing capabilities into standard infantry, SMASH enables the creation of a micro-tactical network between deployed SMASH units, allowing the entire platoon to be smart, precise, and connected.
Michal Mor, CEO of Smart Shooter, noted, “Smart Shooter’s SMASH solution is a proven and reliable hard-kill solution against UAVs, and we are honored that the NATO Defense Against Terrorism POW has selected it for consideration in the domain of the fight against small UAVs. SMASH fire control system puts a precision anti-UAV capability at the fingertips of its users, maximizing operational effectiveness while keeping the force safe and minimizing collateral damage.”
The Indian Navy is set to acquire anti-drone equipment called SMASH-2000, Navy chief, Admiral Karambir Singh announced on the eve of Navy Day in DEc 2020. SMASH-2000 then computes an optimal point of aim based on bullet trajectory with the help of a camera and laser rangefinder, even taking account of the shooter’s own movements. The shooter makes the shot by manually aligning the crosshairs on the designated point of aim, hitting the target. As soon as the trigger is squeezed, the system calculates the target’s movement and predicts its next location using advanced image processing and algorithms. SMASH 2000 prevents the bullet from being fired until the target is precisely in its crosshairs.
SMART SHOOTER has been selected by the U.S. Army and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as one of a handful of approved Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) solution providers. SMART SHOOTER’s SMASH family of Fire Control solutions – capable of leveraging targeting data from a wide range of EO, RF and radar sensors — can be integrated onto any assault rifle, as well as combined with other C-UAS systems, to provide an effective multi-layer defense solution suitable for the modern battlefield.
Bringing precision-missile targeting algorithms and advanced electro-optical processing capabilities into standard infantry, SMASH enables the creation of a micro-tactical network between deployed SMASH units, allowing the entire platoon to be smart, precise, and connected. With a unique “One Shot – One Hit” capability, SMART SHOOTER’s Fire Control technology allows the operator to quickly and effectively neutralize any ground or airborne, manned or unmanned threat through automatic detection, tracking, and effective engagement.
DRDO-made anti-drone system
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief G Satheesh Reddy said that the counter-drone technology developed by his organisation could provide the armed forces with the capability to swiftly detect, intercept and destroy small drones that pose a security threat. He said DRDO’s anti-drone system would give the military both “soft kill” and “hard kill” options to tackle the new and fast-emerging aerial threat. The first refers to jamming the hostile drone, while the second involves a laser-based kill system.
The officials explained how the system works. The solution consists of a radar system that offers 360-degree coverage with detection of micro drones when they are 4km away, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors for detection of micro-drones up to 2 km and a radio frequency (RF) detector to detect RF communication up to 3 km
“The RF/Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) jammer can detect the frequency being used by the controller and jam signals from a distance of 3 km. The laser-based hard kill system can neutralise micro drones at distances between 150 m to 1 km. The system is integrated through a command post,” said one of the officials cited above.
As per the DRDO, this anti-drone system is capable of neutralising micro-drones through either jamming of command and control links or by damaging electronics of drones through laser-based directed energy weapons. “The comprehensive solution is to tackle the problem that drones may pose to national security agencies,” DRDO said in a statement.
Besides, this indigenously developed system can detect and jam micro-drones at a distance of up to 3 km and lase a target 1-1.25 km far depending on the wattage of the laser weapon. According to DRDO, this solution can be an effective counter to increased drone-based activity in India’s western and northern sectors.
“The radar detects micro drones and hands over the track for soft kill and hard kill after due verification by a sensor. Once confirmed by RF detection and verified by EO/IR sensor, the system is ready to jam RF/GNSS signals or use laser weapon as per standard operating procedures,” said a second official.
Counter drone market
The global anti-drone market was worth USD 624 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 2,441 million by 2025; growing at a CAGR of 32.2% from 2020 to 2025. The shipment of anti-drones was 1,071 units in 2019 and is projected to reach 4,684 units by 2025; growing at a CAGR of 34.7% during the forecast period
Major factors driving the growth of this market are increasing use of drones terrorism and illicit activities worldwide and rising incidences of security breaches by unidentified drones. Major driving factors of the market are security during large events such as party conventions and sports games, VIP protection, and counter-smuggling operations at prisons. Increased security breach incidences, rising threats of aerial attacks have opened up substantial new market opportunities for the evolution of counter-UAV measures, various commercial establishments and public safety departments worldwide are increasingly deploying counter-UAV measures to address the ever-growing need for security.
The military & defense vertical is expected to account for the largest share of the anti-drone market during the forecast period. Presently, countries are also giving importance to strengthening counter-drone measures to monitor terrorist activities, which would boost the demand for anti-drone systems in the near future. Furthermore, the use of drones for border trespassing, smuggling, and spying has increased. As a result, the military & defense sector is likely to witness increased demand for an efficient anti-drone system in the coming years.
Based on the Application, Detection & Disruption segment is expected to hold the largest share in the market during the forecast period due to this is due to its growing applications in military and defense security sectors because they detect and destroy UAV entering in restricted areas. investment in this industry are the increasing investment in the UAV market, Increasing terrorist activities and increasing number of incidents of security breach in the region also creating opportunity in this application. In Vertical, Military & Defense segment is also expected to lead the market growth.
The market for laser counter-drone systems is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Laser systems mostly find their applications in the military & defense vertical owing to their great speed, significant flexibility, high precision, and low cost per shot. Furthermore, major companies such as The Boeing Co. (US), Lockheed Martin Corp. (US), Raytheon Technologies (US), Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (Israel), and MBDA (Germany) have been developing laser-based anti-drone systems.
In terms of region, North America is expected to hold the largest share in the market during the forecast period owing to increased maritime security sector, the increase in number of security breach incidents by unidentified drones and increasing terrorist attacks in the North America. North America is projected to lead global growth through 2020, Military and defense is expected to emerge as the largest end-use segment over the forecast period due to increase in R&D activities by defense prime contractors. The growth can also be attributed to the presence of several key players in this region, such as Airbus Defense and Space, Battelle Memorial Institute, Lockheed Martin Corp, etc.
Some of the Key players include: QuinteQ, Thales, Lockheed Martin, ELTA Systems, Dedrone, SmartRounds, Airbus, ELBIT, Rheinmetall, Drone Shield, IAI, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Aselsan, Cobham, Chenega Europe, Meritis, Repulse, Accipter Radar, My Defense Communication, Advanced Protection Systems, Allen Vanguard, ALX Systems, Broadfield Security Services, Delft Dynamics, DeTect, Inc, ELT-Roma, EXPONENT, Joint-Stock Company Scientific and Technical Center for Radio-Electronic Warfare
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