The New World Of Counterdrone Technology

Attempts to prevent unmanned aerial autos (UAVs) from surveillance, terrorist, or military attacks involve methods starting from electronic jamming, to nets, to bullets, and even to birds of prey. By J.R. Wilson
Only slightly greater than a quarter century ago, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) largely were only a curiosity, with little assist from the operational navy. That began to vary with the First Gulf War in 1991 and the profitable use of the Pioneer UAV, which by today’s requirements, was a primitive and limited-use surveillance plane. The need to defend against UAVs hardly ever was even a consideration.

With the Second Gulf War a decade later, UAVs got here into their own. Today, they are an important part of U.S. military missions and operations and are in excessive demand by almost every army and law-enforcement agency on the planet. Unlike most crucial army equipment, nevertheless, UAVs even have gone commercial, equally sought by everybody from oil firms to ranchers, to news media shops, to environmentalists, forestry providers, and fish and wildlife observers.

Darker forces are at work, too. UAVs also are on the purchasing lists of criminals ranging from drug cartels, to human smugglers, to company spies.

As UAVs have become increasingly well-liked throughout many various person communities, their prices have dropped from government-budget ranges to less than that of a TV set. What the government developed in sensor and weapons payloads additionally has moved into those person teams, albeit not as sophisticated or, within the case of weapons, massively lethal. UAVs now are considered a prime threat posed by terrorists, criminals, fanatics, and others who by no means earlier than had such a flexible, stealthy, and low-cost airborne weapon.

This has made counter-UAV applied sciences and methods a high — and more and more categorised — priority for the military, Department of Homeland Security, major regulation enforcement businesses, and the contractors producing them. Seeking to maintain a time and know-how benefit over risk users, those groups primarily have stopped making public statements about C-UAV.

This new matter of C-UAV is split into two main areas: detection and tracking methods; and interdiction. The former contains radar, radio frequency (RF), electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), acoustic, and mixed sensors. Interdiction consists of jamming RF and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System, which includes GPS and GLONASS), spoofing, lasers, physical nets to entangle the goal, projectiles, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), water projectors, “suicide” drones, and combinations of these.

No excellent options
There aren’t any excellent detection strategies. Many reasonably priced electro-optical sensors are restricted to daylight operations and a direct line-of-sight to the target (also true for IR and heaps of RF systems). RF and acoustic sensors use a library of recognized sounds and frequencies to detect UAVs, but the rapid growth of recent platforms makes it impossible for those to be fully up-to-date. Sensor sensitivity also is an issue; too sensitive generates many false positives, whereas lowered sensitivity leads to false negatives.

C-UAV techniques, using mixed information from several sensors, also must be succesful of differentiate between legitimate and hostile, allied, and enemy UAVs — something no known system can do. This is where a human operator must intervene to make what typically is a split-second assessment. Interdiction strategies additionally all have probably negative outcomes, from being blocked by electronic warfare countermeasures to falling onto civilian or pleasant forces.

Decades in the past noticed a flurry of activity in developing unmanned aircraft. Today just as a lot effort is going into new methods to counter UAVs.

“Compounding the effectiveness concern is the fact that drone expertise itself just isn’t standing nonetheless,” according to a February 2018 Counter-Drone Systems report from The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. “The C-UAS market will subsequently have to continually reply to new advances in unmanned plane expertise. As the unmanned plane methods market expands, counter-drone techniques will need to be versatile sufficient to detect and neutralize a growing variety of targets, ranging from massive unmanned aircraft capable of carrying heavy payloads through to low-flying micro surveillance drones that might only weigh a few grams.”

Sometimes UAV applied sciences evolve so quickly that counter-UAV methods simply can’t keep up. “The proliferation of C-UAS know-how may even accelerate the development of applied sciences that can render C-UAS techniques ineffective, particularly in army environments,” the article continues. “Drones might be programmed to function in patterns that make them tough to detect, or rotors could be modified to dampen a drone’s engine noise so that it may possibly evade acoustic detection. Drones could be designed in such a method as to scale back their radar signature. Counter-laser techniques could defend drones from directed-energy attacks. Finally, forces might search to deploy drone swarms, which present a spread of vexing technical challenges from a C-UAS perspective.”

Ground- or air-based
C-UAV techniques could be ground- or air-based and even handheld. Most systems in the marketplace at present are designed just for detection or for interdiction and the clear majority are ground-based, although a quantity of comprise air and floor components.

One impetus for this reclassification of information about counter-UAV technologies and missions can be seen in FBI Director Christopher Wray’s October comments concerning the “steadily escalating threat” of UAVs by terrorists and legal organizations at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Boeing laser on a heavy truck referred to as the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator.

“While there has been no successful malicious use of UAS [unmanned aerial systems] by terrorists within the United States to date, terrorist teams could easily export their battlefield experiences to make use of weaponized UAS exterior the conflict zone,” he informed lawmakers in written testament.

“The FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to obtain, general ease of use and prior use abroad, UAS might be used to facilitate an assault in the United States in opposition to a weak target, similar to a mass gathering.”

The UAVs out there to and used by such teams are several generations behind essentially the most advanced U.S. military platforms. Still, their payload capability, steerage and navigation, and range are enough for smuggling medicine, surveilling routes for human traffickers, or even attacking critical infrastructure or mass public gatherings like sporting events or concert events.

The risk of such purposes grows nearly exponentially with every new growth in commercial UAVs or those developed by and for international militaries that find their means onto the black market. It is unlikely that terrorists or felony organizations ever will have the flexibility to match UAVs in U.S. and allied inventories, but such parity isn’t necessary for their purposes.

The counter-UAV mission relies closely on superior sensors; long-endurance platforms; data fusion to provide a view of the airspace being guarded; and some form of artificial intelligence (AI) to type through and analyze incoming information. This process is far extra engaging than sending raw UAV sensor knowledge to a human operator.

Leonardo DRS is growing the vehicle-mounted Mobile Low, Slow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Integrated Defense Systems (MLIDS) to disable small drones.

C-UAV could be airborne, mounted or cell ground-based and even sea-based. For example, a high-speed cell battlefield C-UAV system — the eXpeditionary Mobile Aerial Defense Integrated System (X-MADIS) — is being developed by Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev.; Ascent Vision Technologies LLC in Belgrade, Mont.; and RADA Electronic Industries Ltd. in Netanya, Israel.

X-MADIS is capable of long-range UAV detection, identification, and defeat while traversing rough terrain at speeds to 30 miles per hour. According to Sierra Nevada, the C-UAV, radar and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) equipment are built-in onto a business off-road automobile to detect, find, determine, track, exploit, and defeat hostile UAVs threatening airports, important infrastructure, or entering no-fly zones.

Enhanced counter-UAV sensors
Sensors also have been advancing rapidly in sensitivity, vary, and reduced measurement and power necessities. Combined with high-speed wireless networking, onboard information fusion, and AI, they’ve significantly increased the capabilities of C-UAV methods.

“Our safety mission is architected round multiple sensors to give one of the best image of the airspace and lowest false alarm rate, looking for anything shifting in the airspace,” says Craig Marcinkowski, director of the SRC Inc. Gryphon Sensors enterprise unit in North Syracuse, N.Y. “But a big fowl and small drone might look the same on radar, so that you also look for communications hyperlinks, at which point you could have a camera that slews over to get a better look.

“Today, there is an operator within the loop at some stage, assessing what’s on the display screen, what sort of payload a drone may be carrying,” Marcinkowski continues. “We’re engaged on computerized picture lookup, the place you presumably can take the operator out of the loop to determine a chook from a drone. We’re centered on deconflicting the low-altitude airspace and secure airspace integration, enabling past visual line-of-sight flying, using sensors that create an accurate 3D picture of what’s on the market. You can also use that knowledge for safety functions round important infrastructure.”

One of the drones shot down by a MEHEL-equipped Stryker in April at Fort Sill throughout MFIX-17. Lessons discovered during MFIX-17 will make the MEHEL simpler for Soldiers to operate.

Military challenges
The other side of counter-UAV is extra complicated — army packages to counter enemy UAVs, starting from these performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in opposition to U.S. or allied forces to stopping hunter-killer UAVs despatched to assault such forces or cripple critical infrastructure.

While the current adversaries engaging U.S. forces are terrorist, rebel, or would-be states (i.e., the Taliban and ISIS), whose UAVs are just like these being confronted alongside U.S. borders and coastal areas. Future conflicts might even see the U.S. going through something it has not seen in the air for decades — peer or near-peer technologies and capabilities.

“Enemy unmanned aircraft are among the many greatest threats going through our ground troops today,” Thomas Bussing, vp of the Raytheon Co. Advanced Missile Systems segment in Tucson, Ariz., said in July whereas saying a contract from the Army to make use of Raytheon’s small, expendable Coyote UAV and KRFS radar to combat enemy UAVs in the battlespace.

The Army already has examined an anti-UAV protection system (AUDS) through the 2017 Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment at Fort Sill, Okla. AUDS comprises two 180-degree radars mounted back-to-back to provide 360-degree real-time coverage and a digital camera to confirm the target’s id. Once confirmed as a hostile UAV, the operators can destroy it, or jam its communications, causing the UAV to return home or crash.

Dr. Robert W. Sadowski, the us Army’s Chief Roboticist at the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Mich., says the navy also is adapting and bettering industrial developments to fulfill that threat.

“Commercial is more leveraging applied sciences that have been hardened for army applications,” Sadowski says. “The vary of temperatures they operate beneath is a bit more relaxed, so that needs to be ruggedized. The commercial world has been really pushing down the value of sensors, which also are getting smaller, enabling extra sensors to be placed on existing UAVs.

Raytheon’s Multispectral Targeting System (MTS) combines optical and infrared sensors to acquire and monitor airborne targets and direct the laser beam it fires. For C-UAV, the MTS was modified to track Class-1 drones (under 20 pounds) and Class 2 drones (between 20 and 55 pounds), the commonest sizes utilized by terrorists and insurgents.

Sensor fusion
“Sensor fusion is another space the place a lot of work is being accomplished on multi-modal radars and digital camera imagery,” Sadowski continues. “The other piece, the auto trade, brings in excessive computing functionality for low price and energy. Where a decade in the past you might have wanted a supercomputer, at present the gaming business has helped bring the cost and measurement of high-performance computing down.”

In July, the Army introduced a $13 million award to Leonardo DRS to proceed engineering and testing of the Mobile Low, Slow UAV Integrated Defense System (MLIDS). In October 2017, the corporate was awarded a $43 million production contract for an undisclosed variety of MLIDS to fulfill the Army’s have to counter small, inexpensive UAVs — similar to commercial quadcopters — working as airborne improvised explosive units (IEDs).

MLIDS is mounted on two mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain automobiles (M-ATVs), one carrying the DRS elevated mast-mounted surveillance and battlefield reconnaissance equipment (EO/IR sensors), the opposite a reconfigurable integrated-weapons platform (RIwP) developed by Leonardo and Moog, capable of firing a variety of kinetic weapons, and a small UAV.

“Drones have gotten an increasingly harmful menace against our forward-deployed soldiers and we are proud to support this urgent requirement to protect them from doubtlessly lethal small unmanned aerial autos,” Aaron Hankins, vice chairman and common manager for DRS Land Systems, mentioned on the time. “We are working onerous to ship the most effective functionality to our soldiers as quickly as attainable.”

Military C-UAV systems depend on multi-layered detection applied sciences — EO/IR, RF scanners, radar. cameras, jammers and tracking software program. They also can include quite so much of kill capabilities, from guns and rockets to lasers and digital warfare (EW).

Market analysts predict the global navy marketplace for C-UAV will develop from around $300 million right now — primarily U.S. research, improvement, testing and analysis (RDT&E) — to round $1 billion by the tip of 2019. The commercial market has tripled in the past yr, from round $30 million to close to $100 million, although that is predicted to be limited by FAA rules on UAV flight within the nationwide airspace and an absence of confirmed UAV attacks — together with corporate espionage — on U.S. targets.

The Boeing High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), developed initially to protect forward-deployed warfighters from rockets, mortars, and artillery shells, is yielding laser weapons technology to counter unmanned aerial automobiles.

The role of artificial intelligence
AI is much more essential to the future of army counter-UAV than it is to frame safety.

“[The key is] how to do real-time processing of video feeds and create effective notion in a complex electromagnetic surroundings, synthesized so the commander can make decisions quickly,” says TARDEC’s Sadowski. “How can we do reasoning on the tactical degree, making the mechanical platform part of the team? There is lots of work that needs to be accomplished on human/machine interface and cognitive load. These are issues underneath lively pursuit within the labs now, how to do real-time updates, advanced situational consciousness and fixing the notion and prediction issues.

“Most of what we’re working on now could be extra deterministic methods,” Sadowski continues. “AI is less deterministic. You have to train the robotic to do what it must do. That requires lots of training runs with relevant knowledge, but some superb things are being done in that space. Start off with notion — is that a bird, a balloon or a UAV; then prediction, taking stuff between frames and stitching together a temporal message, which outcomes in planning. Prediction has not yet been accomplished by neural nets. Some of these things could be solved working with machine learning or AI.”

As with any navy capability, advances by one side are shortly challenged by advances on the other facet. Rapid technological advances being made on an nearly daily foundation by industrial and navy scientists and engineers have put extra pressures on the development and fielding of UAVs and counter-UAV techniques.

“AI is a extremely key area. China is making a strong push in AI, which is a serious concern. The U.S. remains to be in the lead, however China has made this a national precedence, with large investments and a huge focus, “says Phil Finnigan, UAV analyst on the Teal Group market research firm in Fairfax, Va.

“Another revolutionary expertise is low-cost HALE [high altitude, long endurance]. Some of the techniques primarily being developed for the civil/commercial world, primarily by Airbus and AeroVironment, for instance, supply super potential for long-term surveillance or communications at low value. That is being driven by commercial packages, but may have lots of defense and homeland safety purposes.”

A HALE UAV offers wider coverage for an extended time during ISR missions, giving navy and homeland security customers a greater likelihood of detecting and figuring out hostile UAVs, sending back info in real-time to enable the employment of acceptable counter-UAV measures. Those vary from guns and rockets to non-kinetic digital alerts to jam, spoof, destroy, or take over the goal UAV’s navigation and management systems. One choice beneath investigation, for instance, would cause the UAV to return to its launch level, enabling authorities to locate and take acceptable motion towards adversary ground-control stations and personnel.

Cyber safety
In a mirroring of the long-standing armor/anti-armor development cycle, some companies have begun engaged on counter-C-UAV, corresponding to Raytheon’s Electronic Armor to prevent UAVs from being hacked.

UAVs have demonstrated their worth through the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. First utilized by the united states, then its allies, they now are a common weapon of ISIS and different non-state teams, primarily as flying IEDs.

Today, UAVs come in every kind, sizes and prices, with lots of of manufacturers in a lot of the world’s nations. That, in flip, has spurred an explosion in the number of C-UAV producers and techniques in just the previous 12 months or two and the beginning of yet another layer with counter-C-UAV.

Among those that have introduced or demonstrated packages are: Advanced Ballistics Concepts, Aaronia AG, Accipter, Advanced Protection Systems, Airbus DS Electronics, Airspace Systems, Alion Science & Technology, Allen-Vanguard, ApolloShield, BAE Systems, Batelle, BATS, Blighter Surveillance, Boeing, CACI, Chenega Europe, Cintel, Citadel Defense, CTS Technology, Dedrone, Delft Dynamics, Department thirteen Intl., DeTect, DJI, Drone Defence, DroneShield, DRS/Moog, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, General Dynamics, Groupe Assman, Gryphon Sensors, Guard From Above, Hensoldt, IACIT, Kalashnikov/ZALA Aero Group, KB Radar Design Bureau, L3 Technologies, Liteye Systems, Lockheed Martin, Malou Tech, MBDA Deutschland, Meritis, MCTech, Northrop Grumman, OpenWorks Engineering, Prime Consulting & Technologies, Rafael, Raytheon, Saab, Sanad Academy, Securus Technologies, Sensofusion, Sierra Nevada, Skysec, Snake River Shooting Projects, SRC, Systems DroneShield, SystemsGrok, Thales, Theiss UAV Solutions, UMS Aero Group.

According to the Counter-Drone Systems report, a hundred and fifty five firms in additional than 30 nations had been working on more than 230 C-UAV products; all three numbers nearly certainly have grown since then. Those don’t embrace army labs similar to DARPA, the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects and China’s Scientific Research Steering Committee.

Counter-drone firm list

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