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28 Oct 21. Russia’s Ataka-Shorokh acoustic UAV detector completes factory trials. Russia’s Ataka-Shorokh acoustic detector of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has completed factory trials, state corporation Rostec announced in October.
“The system has fully completed its factory acceptance trials, which confirmed its functioning, including under harsh weather conditions,” said Rostec.
The Ataka-Shorokh station is equipped with microphones and features software to analyse the environment and detect approaching UAVs. According to Rostec, the device was tested both separately and as a part of the Ataka-DBS and Ataka-Trophy counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (C-UAV) systems.
When integrated with the Ataka-DBS, the Ataka-Shorokh acoustically detects a UAV at distances between 150 and 500 m, and the main system can then jam the UAV’s satellite navigation datalink. As part of a multilayer security network, the device can cue cameras to focus on the noise source.
The Ataka-DBS mast-mounted C-UAV system detects UAVs and suppresses their control, datalink, and navigation channels at distances of up to 1,500 m. It has a modular structure and can integrate additional jamming modules. The mobile variant of the Ataka-DBS is designated as Ataka-Trophy, and it is mounted on a UAZ 4×4 all-terrain vehicle. The Ataka-Trophy detects UAVs at distances of up to 1,000 m, suppresses communications channels on frequency bands between 2 and 6 GHz, and can be deployed within five minutes. The Ataka family of C-UAV systems was developed by Ruselectronics, a Rostec holding. (Source: Janes)
28 Oct 21. US Central Command Stepping Up C-UAS Effort. US Central Command (CENTCOM) is improving its counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) effort with a “rapidly evolving set of tools and training”.
The C-UAS effort is being assisted by a dedicated Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) cell serving with Task Force Phoenix, the aviation unit currently supporting US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria.
“In response to recent UAS attacks on coalition bases in Iraq and Syria, the Task Force Phoenix CEMA cell performed battlefield assessments and identified gaps in C-UAS training,” CENTCOM said. “The team then reached out to the Yuma Counter-UAS Training Academy and US Army Forces Command to get the latest C-UAS training packages being used stateside.”
The result was a five-day training programme for C-UAS operators that includes virtual-reality simulation and hands-on training with handheld systems.
The first course was held for 16 US Army and Air Force personnel at Camp Buehring in Kuwait on 4–8 October and included a briefing from Raytheon on the DroneDefender V2, as well as hands-on training with NINJA and EnforceAir C-UAS systems, CENTCOM said.
It released a photograph of soldiers training with an older version of the DroneDefender made by Battelle, which jams the frequencies used to control most commercial unmanned aircraft.
The D-Fend EnforceAir system is designed to automatically detect UASs and their unique communication identifiers, then hack their controls to land them in a designated area without using jamming that can disrupt other communications. (Source: UAS VISION/Janes)
29 Sep 21. C-UAS – Solving the Detection Problem. As we have seen in the UAV section of this issue, the increasing presence of unmanned systems on the battlefield and their widening combat use has necessitated attention to countering them. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have grown from a handful of expensive dedicated reconnaissance platforms employed by upper echelons to relatively inexpensive systems suitable for tactical use down to the squad. Unmanned systems in the form of the UAS have already demonstrated their potential to alter the conditions of the battlefield. Their successful use against the Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, in the eastern Ukraine, and against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh has emphasised the necessity of developing and deploying effective countering systems.
Tactical UAS offer particularly unique challenges. Those referred to as Group 1 and 2 being under 121 pounds (55 kilograms) and operating below 3,500 feet (1,066 metres) above ground level represent a new and unconventional threat. Operating from dispersed locations, in close proximity to the battle, under direct control and often hidden by the clutter of the surroundings they are more difficult to detect and counter using traditional air defence techniques and systems. In fact, simply the difficulty of being able to determine if a UAS is actually present is both a major advantage of the drone and a principle challenge for ground forces.
The nature of the Tactical UAS (TUAS) complicates the process of detecting and defeating them. This is especially true for units forward on the battlefield. Even individual combat vehicles have limited means for addressing a TUAS if encountered and supporting systems like command and logistics have virtually none. Exacerbating this is that there are few forward air defence units capable of engaging the TUAS and it is likely that they will be committed to protecting more critical assets. This leaves much of the battlefield force vulnerable to attention by enemy unmanned systems without means to deter them. In itself, this further encourages their use and enhances their effectiveness. A Ukrainian soldier reflected to a correspondent covering the fighting in the east of the country that “the constant presence or even the possibility that a UAS could be watching one’s every move quickly becomes a constant concern. One begins to assume that every action may be known and act accordingly. It becomes a physiological burden.”
Detecting UAS has become even more difficult as the fixed wing UAS has been increasingly replaced by vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS. Their relative flight path unpredictability is a particular problem. VTOL UAS, like the US Marine Corps InstantEye also have the implicit advantage of being able to operate without need for either a separate launcher or large open area as they can be launched from more restricted and less conspicuous sites. Recognising this increased flexibility UAS developers are introducing hybrid designs which combine fixed wing and helicopter like rotor blades. Systems like the Russian VTOL ZALA 421-16EV have both rotor blades and fixed wings. This allows vertical take-off, yet higher air speed and range, factors which combine to make detection more difficult.
Armed UAS or loitering munitions, also referred to as Kamikaze drones, were also used during the Armenian conflict. Equipped with an explosive payload, IAI Harop drones were essentially flown into their target by Azerbaijani operators. Their effectiveness was facilitated by the lack of any counter-UAS (C-UAS) capability by the Armenian army.
Russia’s Zhukovsky Air Force Academy, together with Autonomous Aerospace Systems – GeoService and Group Kronstadt presented FLOCK-95 at Moscow’s Interpolitex-2019 security exhibition. Samuel Bendett, a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council declared: “Russians think that this swarm will be an effective weapon against high-tech adversaries based on what they have seen and learned in Syria”. The number of drones and the possibility that coordinated attacks could be received simultaneously from multiple directions further complicates the C-UAS challenge.
Detecting a tactical UAS is not simple as their small profile, relatively quiet flight, and ability to remain hidden by surrounding terrain, vegetation and buildings makes unaided visual detection difficult. Radar offers the best practical solution, with AESA (active electronically scanned array) having proven the most effective. Lee Dingman, president and COO at Ascent Vision, explained: “Systems like our RADA Multi-mission Hemispherical Radar reliably provides an umbrella surveillance coverage out to 5-6km (3-4 miles) both while stationary and on-the-move. Plus, they are compact and energy efficient to be compatible for integration on mobile platforms.” In fact, such systems have been preferred in dedicated C-UAS currently being introduced such as the MADIS (Marine Air Defence Integrated System) and US Army IM-SHORAD from Leonardo DRS.
Doppler radars are well suited to detecting UAS as they are able to track moving objects and can discard static objects which could be false targets. Systems like the EVIRA, a Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) from Robin Radar Systems in the Netherlands are mini-doppler radars. These are able to specifically detect speed differences among moving objects which is particularly relevant to UAS that use some version of propellors. In addition, as the radar is always sending and receiving, it offers accurate and fast tracking with quick update rates, all critical to finding and tracking an agile target like a UAS that is able to quickly drop out of sight.
Acoustic detection, determining the presence and bearing of a UAS by its sound signature, is being introduced as well. This capability may be included as an added feature in ‘shot’ or gunfire detection systems on vehicles. Where a number of acoustic detection and alerting systems are present within a unit or around a site they can be networked. Comparing the bearing of the detection from several systems allows triangulation thereby providing the precise location of the UAS. The microphone arrays do not depend on the size of the drone, but rather on the sound of the propeller. This means that they can effectively offer both detection and recognition, determining whether it is drone or not, and then track it. The latter may be refined through accessing a digital library of UAS acoustic signatures to even identify the specific type. This information then offers details on the capabilities of the threatening UAS, allowing a determination as to the capabilities and best counter to each UAS.
The use of optical systems, including both high resolution colour and thermal heat sensing infra-red cameras, are already a component of many counter-UAS systems. They are integrated to provide a positive identification of the target detected by another search medium. An optical sight is generally also the preferred aiming method for engaging hostile UAS. For these applications, the optical devices by necessity have greater magnification and limited field-of-view (FOV).
Infra-red Search and Track (IRST) which continuously scan and detect heat-signatures have also shown promise, certainly as a surveillance and search system, and increasingly for recognition and identification as well.
IRST systems like the HBH Infrared Systems Spynel-X series have already been successfully demonstrated in perimeter surveillance conditions. These continuously rotate around 360 degrees scanning a vertical FOV of between 5-20 degrees depending on the model. The mid-wave IR focal plan array detects the heat signatures of everything in its FOV. Comparing the scene of each rotation, which can be as fast as two scans per second, the system is able to detect new heat signatures. Repeated sensings provide a track and through signature filters a confirmation of a potential threat. Once alerted, the operator can access the video image to verify that it is a UAS or other intrusion requiring further action. The advantage of infra-red systems such as Spynel is that they is fully passive, of compact size, and provide alerting and targeting for a range of threats, not just UAS.
RF (radio frequency) detection and signal direction finding has proven an effective passive detection approach for fixed or stationary sites, such as airfields, where RF receivers can installed. Dr. Jon Bradley, vice president sales at CRFS, a leader in RF detection systems explained: “Our RFeye uses three or more receivers connected to omnidirectional antenna placed in spatially separated network. Using TDOA or Time Difference Of Arrival it is able geolocate in 3-dimensions RF transmissions.” This allows not just the accurate locating of the drone but potentially the drone control station as well. The later is invaluable in offering an additional, and particularly effective additional option in defeating the UAS. Identifying where the operator of the UAS may be located in combat situations allows the site to be engaged by either indirect or indirect fires. In a more benign environment, it could open the opportunity to physically capture the operator and their equipment. Both cases offer greater return than simply downing the UAS platform itself.
RF detection and ranging, previously less practical for tactical use, is feasible as CRFS provides a system with man-portable or vehicle mounted common sensors. Bradley explained: “Four or more sensors networked will detect, track (including altitude and speed) and identify (including target type) in 3D and do so entirely passively.” As RFeye collects from a broad RF spectrum, analysis of its collected data could also have other signals related applications such as counter-artillery, C2 location, SigInt, and electronic warfare.
Classification and Identification
Detection of a ‘sighting’ then requires confirmation that it is in fact a valid potential target. Referred to as Classification and Identification, the focus is on determining that the object is in fact a UAS and not a false alarm. Although the advanced nature of detection filters are quite efficient in eliminating naturally occurring false targets like birds there is always the need to determine ‘friend or foe’ or simply confirm what response is needed or best. In a tactical scenario, this is currently undertaken through visual identification using day and/or thermal imaging systems. Having an accurate bearing or location facilitates acquiring the potential target since generally positive identification can require higher magnification meaning a narrower field-of-view. For vehicle mounted C-UAS, the hand-off between detection and acquisition can be automated allowing more rapid execution of the target identification. For dismounted, particularly handheld C-UAS, acquisition and identification can be hampered by the complexity of the view of the surroundings and limits of handheld optics. Field experience has shown that positive identification of a small UAS by the unaided eye at a sufficient distance where action can be taken is questionable at best. Even high resolution optical systems are challenged given the necessary high magnification ;thereby limiting the FOV. As CRFS’s Dr. Bradley shared: “a successful C-UAS effort requires detection and reliable target confirmation at as great a distance as possible to provide sufficient time to effectively respond.” The ideal C-UAS incorporates detection, identification, and both aerial platform and its controller location and does so rapidly, thus, allowing for selection and execution of the most appropriate defeat action.
27 Oct 21. DARPA, NGA Transition Novel Optics Technology to Fieldable Prototypes.
- Advanced Optics and Imaging Program Demonstrates Smaller, Lighter, More Capable Lenses
Materials with novel optical properties developed under DARPA’s Extreme Optics and Imaging (EXTREME) program are providing new capabilities for government and military imaging systems.
EXTREME, a basic research program in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, successfully developed new optical components, devices, systems, architectures, and design tools using engineered optical materials, or metamaterials.
Metamaterials are composed of unit cells that are much smaller than the operating wavelength, allowing for greater manipulation of light. Early examples of metamaterials were used to design and build multifunctional elements that seemingly defied standard “laws” of reflection and refraction. These were limited in efficiencies and in sizes less than a millimeter, prohibiting their integration into optical systems. EXTREME addressed these challenges by improving efficiencies of lenses based on metamaterials, expanded their apertures to centimeter-scale, developed methods to reduce the effect of optical aberrations, and explored new optical design space and associated tradeoffs in size, weight, and power (SWaP) afforded by such metalenses.
The program kicked off in 2016 with multiple performers developing centimeter-scale metamaterials-based optics (metaoptics) and tools to design them. The program was soon able to enable revolutionary improvement in SWaP characteristics of traditional optical systems as well as allow for multiple imaging applications from a single lens.
In 2018, DARPA partnered with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Research Directorate to transition meta-optics concepts to unmanned aerial systems’ (UAS) optical systems. This NGA Metalenses program funded the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for multi-centimeter meta-optics development and characterization, the Naval Research Laboratory for volumetric 3D metamaterial imaging capabilities, and Sandia National Laboratories for large-scale metalens modeling and optimization.
“Through the NGA effort, AFRL developed unique capabilities using EXTREME technologies to characterize the optical performance of novel meta-optics and developed new insights into how they could be integrated into a full imaging system,” said Rohith Chandrasekar, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “This work was also supported by Sandia’s MIRAGE tool, which is a first-of-its-kind capability developed under DARPA EXTREME and NGA Metalenses programs, that exploits symmetries to enable large-scale metalens design and optimization to meet performance metrics.”
The above-mentioned EXTREME technologies are now transitioning from NGA to AFRL under its Seedlings for Disruptive Capabilities Program (SDCP). Through SDCP, AFRL directorates partner with industry to answer critical needs of the Air Force Futures Strategy. EXTREME technologies are being employed in several SDCP projects: Integrated Compact Electro-Optic (EO)/Infrared (IR) Systems (ICES); the XQ-58 Valkyrie experimental stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle; and the Air Launched Off-Board Operations (ALOBO) program, a tube-launched UAS.
ICES is exploiting discoveries made under EXTREME to enable mounting multifunction sensors on low-cost platforms, such as UAS, to be deployed in contested environments. These smaller platforms have more stringent volume constraints and weight restrictions than legacy platforms, so adding a new sensor usually requires removing an existing one. The introduction of compact metalenses and planar optics for EO/IR capabilities disrupts the trade space, potentially enabling multiple sensors on a single platform, thus increasing capability.
AFRL is relying on EXTREME technology to modify the EO/IR systems on two developmental platforms: the XQ-58 and ALOBO. For the XQ-58, AFRL is looking to reduce the volume of existing sensors to make room for additional sensors. For ALOBO, AFRL is modifying the tube-launch compatible gimbal system. Advances in optics by DARPA and NGA allow AFRL to realize new trade space for the gimbal with either 10x reduction in SWaP while maintaining current performance or 4x improvement in resolution at current SWaP requirements.
“Our close partnership with DARPA and the performers on the EXTREME program has enabled us to rapidly mature and demonstrate new technology for optical systems, which increases imaging system performance to address future system needs where conventional optics cannot meet performance or cost requirements,” said Paul Fleitz, ALOBO team lead in AFRL’s Aerospace Systems Directorate. “Transitioning this technology and design tools developed under the EXTREME program to AFRL SDCP programs has dramatically accelerated the development and demonstration of this technology and increased the impact of the development program.”
EXTREME is a critical example of a successful partnership between DARPA, NGA, and AFRL to provide rapid transition from basic research to fieldable next-generation technology to support the warfighter. (Source: ASD Network/DARPA)
26 Oct 21. UK aligns Airseeker support agreement with extended out of service date. The United Kingdom has extended its support agreement with the United States for the L3 Technologies RC-135V/W Airseeker (Rivet Joint) to align with the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft’s extended out of service date. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 26 October that the support agreement with the US government for three Royal Air Force (RAF) electronic surveillance (ELINT) aircraft had been extended through to 2035, in a deal valued at GBP970 million (USD1.3 billion).
“Airseeker support is provided by the unique venture between the US Air Force [USAF] and the UK MoD – known as the Rivet Joint Cooperative Programme – which was due to expire in 2025, and will now continue until the UK out of service date in 2035,” the MoD said. The extension to the support agreement aligns the change in the Airseeker retirement date from 2025 to 2035 that was made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). (Source: Janes)
25 Oct 21. Silent Sentinel Receives Queen’s Award for Enterprise. On Thursday 21st October 2021, Silent Sentinel was presented with a prestigious Queen’s Award by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss CBE CStJ.
The Queen’s Awards are the most prestigious annual awards for UK businesses, recognising outstanding achievement. Silent Sentinel won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade in 2020, reflecting the company’s growth and global reach.
Paul Elsey, Managing Director said:
“Winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade is a huge honour, and it shows the extraordinary global export level our team have achieved from our facilities in the UK and US. Silent Sentinel continues to expand and grow, and we look forward to continuing to provide our expertly manufactured products to meet threat detection needs all around the world.”
Since 2006, Silent Sentinel has exported camera platforms to over 55 countries across six continents. To find out more, visit our website:
19 Oct 21. Industry frustrated over lack of legal authority to act against dangerous drones. An article published by the US police resource, Police1, calls for legal authority from US Congress to counteract dangerous drones. According to an article by J Rowland and C Fleischer in Police1, in the past 10 months, the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Police Department has written 22 city ordinance violations for drones flying in the City of Fort Wayne’s downtown aerial district. While your own department has likely also seen incidents rise, what you may not know is that four federal agencies currently hold all legal authority to mitigate dangerous drones. The law currently states that only those working for the DHS, DOD, DOE and the DOJ are legally allowed to mitigate and intercept a threatening drone. And while there can be cases argued for protocol, these laws can and should be updated to include granting authority to state and local law enforcement to help take down drones in order to effectively protect the communities in which we serve. New technologies are designed to safely detect and mitigate dangerous drones. As our agency learned through counter-drone training through New Mexico Tech, we manage a drone by first detecting it, then identifying it, tracking it, assessing if hostile, responding and reporting as needed. But in this case, “respond” doesn’t necessarily mean “mitigate”, says Police 1. The “respond” step usually entails tracking down the operator and asking them to remove the drone or face fines, or capturing the drone itself for evidence. At this point, it’s not legal for law enforcement to take down a drone. The best tool we currently have is a written citation, which won’t stop someone if they truly want to cause harm. All reported sightings of drones flying in restricted airspace are recorded by the FAA for good reason; a drone could bring a plane down if it flew into the engine. Yet even near airports, our hands are tied. Airports can use drone detecting and tracking tools to avoid drone interference, but once a drone threat is detected there are few options for response. The FAA has the right to charge a drone operator with civil penalties, but they can’t charge them with a crime.
“We hear from law enforcement every single day about the need for tools and training that would allow them to quickly take down a threatening drone and to be able to do so in a manner that won’t cause collateral damage,” said Timothy Bean, CEO of the counter-drone company, Fortem Technologies. “We have developed an AI-guided hunter drone that is a force multiplier – able to detect threats, alert police and then mitigate the threatening drone via net and remove it safely so that nobody on the ground gets hurt.”
The Police1 article continues: Drones are easily accessible with little to no oversight – they’re cheap, easy to buy and operate, and require little to no training or licensure to obtain. Commercial and hobby drone use are on the rise. For the most part, operators want to comply with rules for safe operation, but in the wrong hands, drones can be used to wreak havoc.
Ordinances are inconsistent across jurisdictions and the threat is huge. Even if a drone attack is intended to be a practical joke, it could be dangerous. Imagine someone operates a commercial agricultural drone over a large event with an outdoor crowd. That drone has large tanks that normally spread herbicide on large areas of crops. If this usually innocuous drone flew over a ball game, spraying water – while harmless – the panic that would ensue would be massive.
We are seeing drones being put to use in questionable ways. These drones have the capability to carry a payload or firearm that can harm a crowd or anyone on the ground it’s flying above. Most are equipped with cameras that fly over restricted airspace or areas that are off limits, and have been used to capture video with no additional context. These videos are then widely shared on social media greatly exacerbating the recorded incident.
According to Police1, drones are exposing vulnerabilities and threats to critical infrastructure across the country. State and local law enforcement agencies urgently need the tools and legal authority to identify and stop reckless or malicious drones.
The FAA’s most recent annual Aerospace Forecast report estimates that last year’s forecasted UAS sales for 2022 – 452,000 units – were surpassed by the beginning of 2020. As a result, potential threats associated with civilian drone use will continue to expand in nature and increase in volume in the coming years. Decision-making to mitigate drone threats needs to be pushed down to the first responder level, so state, local and federal authorities can work together to control the situation.
Because of their physical and operational characteristics, drones can often evade detection and create challenges for critical infrastructure systems. We need to be able to detect and mitigate drone threats before they cause harm. Police drones can help authorities identify illegal and unregistered drones that may be hazardous to the surrounding environment. Once an illegal operation has been identified, the threat level can be determined and ground units can be dispatched to locate the operator.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notes that there are 16 “critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”
In order to protect the nation’s infrastructure adequately, we need to integrate comprehensive airspace security solutions, including 3D detection, monitoring, classification, tracking and mitigation. Security systems must be able to detect the smallest drones before a perimeter breach occurs. While the DHS, the FBI and other agencies agree that drones present a major concern for national security, Congress has been slow to enact laws that clearly identify what authority state and local law enforcement have to mitigate or destroy these threats. State and local authorities have the infrastructure and knowledge to act quickly to take down these threats, which would allow them to handle the situation in real-time.
Technology is only improving with time. Drone technologies and capabilities are only going to increase with time. The threat of weaponizing drones is real, it is only a matter of time before we get there. That is why we need Congress to authorize state and local law enforcement to assist in mitigating drone attacks, says Police.
For more information visit: www.police1.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
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