Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) are more popularly known as drones, whether they are helicopters, quadcopters or small fixed wing aircraft. Strictly speaking, UAS is the entire system that supports the aircraft. That system includes the aircraft, the ground control station, communications systems, information analysis, maintenance, logistics and other support facilities.

However, the term drone is usually restricted to small systems used by Navy and Army rather than the larger systems coming into service with the Air Force. A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is an actual large aircraft, flown by qualified pilots from a ground control station.

In Australian Defence Force (ADF) service, uncrewed aircraft range from the tiny PD-100 Black Hornet Nano helicopter which weighs only 18 grams and is carried by a soldier, being likened to a flying pair of binoculars, to the Air Force’s future RPA MQ-4 Triton UAS which has a wingspan of 39.9 metres, weighs 14,628 kg and an endurance of 24+ hours.

A common characteristic of all UAS is that their flying operations are controlled from the ground by radio signals. This gives an immediate clue as to the usual type of anti-drone technology which is being adopted by the armed forces in many countries.

The choices are mainly to take over or interrupt the ground to air radio signal so that the UAS is unable to continue in its mission. There are also some high-power microwave and laser systems which have been developed and tested overseas.

One of the main challenges for anti-drone weapons is the scalability of their solution. For example, a single drone performing a surveillance mission is much easier to neutralise than a swarm of attack drones. But of course, the targeted drone must be detected and identified. This is the role of counter-drone sensors.

So, when describing anti-drone technology, detection and identification of drone type and model is as important as the weapons used to block the drone’s controlling signals and to initiate counteraction.

APDR has been unable to establish from Defence any formal project to develop anti-drone technology. (Editor: because they don’t exist).

This is an excerpt from APDR. To read the full story, click here.

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