Drone on drone combat a reality

26 October 2020

Arie Egozi (Israel)

Armed drones pose an increasing threat to fighting forces. Israeli companies have developed systems that are aimed at protecting forces and sites from these drones. Now an additional system has been unveiled – a Drone "killer". The U.S Special Forces are beginning to use it.

Following a joint R&D program led by the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), in the Israel Ministry of Defense, together with Israeli company Xtend, and the U.S. DoD's Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), an operational pilot program has been launched employing Skylord drones in the defense of U.S. military forces. The program has produced a drone system with a remote immersive interface that protects troops from various inbound aerial threats – particularly drones. 

As a result of the close cooperation between the institutions involved, the system has been developed in accordance with concrete operational requirements. As such, following a year of R&D and various tests, the CTTSO decided to launch an operational pilot program, testing and validating the system's capabilities in the field. As part of the pilot program, several dozen Skylord systems will be employed by U.S. troops. 

Ido Baron, VP Business development of Xtend, the Israeli company that has designed and manufactured the specialized Skylord drone, says that by using an AR device and single handed controller, a soldier can easily operate the Skylord system to control the drone and perform complex tasks remotely, with great ease and precision. Its interface enables the operator to immersively "step into" a remote reality and engage targets effectively yet safely.

The drone weighs 900 grams and has a max speed of 150 km /h. "To operate this drone a soldier needs minimal training minimal training and no prior expertise." After locking onto the target, the drone releases a lightweight net from directly above the target drone to kill its props and cause it to plummet to the ground.

Baron explains that a unit can use data from a sensor used by drone killing systems that are in use. "This data will lead our drone to the vicinity of the hostile drone and then the soldier with a small toll like a simple joy stick archives the kill."

Head of the UAV Branch in the DDR&D of the Ministry Israeli ministry of Defense, Lieutenant-Colonel Menachem Landau says this joint activity implements novel technological capabilities taken from the field of AR (augmented reality), and from the world of gaming." It enables the troops of both nations to employ intuitive, battle-proven and precise systems follow a minimal training period, and to engage hostile flying objects such as drones. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with our partners in the CTTSO of the U.S. Department of Defense, in developing advanced technology to protect troops and enhance operational capabilities." 

Xtend CEO, Aviv Shapira describes the Skylord as one of the world's most advanced C-UAS Hard Kill solutions, and says "the XTEND team is thrilled at the opportunity to deploy our systems in operational missions - and to protect the lives of both US/IDF combat soldiers."

– Arie Egozi is a writer / editor based in Israel