Counters to UAVs (C-UAV) have evolved. Detection requires combination of radar, Radio Frequency (RF), Electro-Optical (EO), Infra-red (IR), and acoustic sensors. Interdiction would be through direct bullet firing, jamming RF and GPS signals, spoofing, lasers, cyber-attacks, physical nets to entangle the target, projectiles, Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), camouflage and concealment, water projectors, birds of prey or using another drone for direct hit and combinations of those. C-UAVs could be ground or air-based.
Drone swarms have some weaknesses and limitations too. Their offensive could also be blunted through a counter drone swarm.
In January 2018, Russia confirmed a swarm drone attack on its military base in Syria. Six of these small-size UAVs were reportedly intercepted and taken under control by the Russian EW units. The drones had satellite navigation electronics and carried professionally assembled Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The US is now deploying new radars such as Q-53 system that can detect and identify such small objects and then initiate the kill chain using laser weapons.
Lockheed Martin’s ‘Skunk Works’ engineers are engaged in research to develop and implement the technology that will help detect and defeat swarms. A 60-kilowatt system that combines multiple fibre lasers to generate the high power weapon of parallel beams. Cyber solutions to defeat drones are by using multi spectral sensor systems to detect and then using cyber electromagnetic to either disable the drone or physically take over and divert them. Hundreds of companies around the world are reportedly working on C-UAV systems. US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects and China’s Scientific Research Steering Committee are leading the research in this field.
Source: “UAVs: A Potent Operational Asset” article published by Indian Defence Review Magazine
Author: Air Marshal Anil Chopra, commanded a Mirage Squadron, two operational air bases and the IAF’s Flight Test Centre ASTE. He is now Director at Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)