Author:Cowan, Gerrard

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have proliferated in recent years, sparking an increased emergence of systems designed to counter them. A number of companies have launched or are developing solutions that use electronic warfare (EW) or cyber techniques to disable and disrupt this new menace.

The threat to militaries from UAVs has rapidly expanded, with small, commercially available systems capable of carrying out surveillance or even carrying explosive payloads. UAVs have moved from the low-threat hobbyist arena 'to ISR missions--providing enemies with situational awareness of friendly forces--to weaponised tactics such as kamikaze (attacks) and weapon delivery', said Dave Bessey, assistant vice-president, counter-unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at SRC, the manufacturer of the Silent Archer counter-UAV system.

Silent Archer is designed to detect, track, classify, identify, and disrupt hostile UAVs. The system's operations can be divided into three broad areas, according to the company. The first is 'detect'. Silent Archer uses an air surveillance radar, EW and direction-finding systems to scan the airspace for low, slow and small (LSS) airborne targets, collecting information on areas like radio frequency (RF) signatures, 3-D location, and so on.

'Together, these technologies accurately detect, track and identify hostile UAVs for making effective decisions regarding threats,' the company states.

The second area of focus is 'decide', for which the system utilises radar signature data and electronic surveillance information to allow for the positive identification of UAV targets. This can be enhanced through the use of an electrooptical/infrared (EO/IR) camera. When visual identification is made, the operator can confidently decide on what actions to take against the threat, if any.

Finally, there is 'defeat', which uses the EW system in a number of different ways: for example, jamming the communication links of the unmanned system, which makes it return to its base or carry out an emergency landing.

SRC has designed the system to be configured for use in different roles, including vehicle-mounted expeditionary deployment, fixed-site installation, 'or flyaway kit packaging for quick-in, quick-out missions'. The company is also looking to integrate new technologies to further increase the system's capabilities.

SRC supplies its counter-UAV technology to the US Army and Air Force (USAF), and has seen rising demand, Bessey added. Mr. Bassey said Silent Archer is aimed mainly at defeating smaller UAVs (Classes 1-3), "since they are the most challenging due to their small size, low altitude, slow speed and staggered flight patterns".

Mr. Bassey also pointed to the danger of 'swarm' attacks featuring...

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