The proliferation of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAV), whether specifically designed and equipped for military use, or adaptations of readily available commercial models, places a heavy burden on those responsible for countering them.
From the nuisance of small commercial drones being flown into airport air space or sporting events, all the way through to sophisticated loitering weapons systems that attack high value military targets, the mission of detecting, neutralizing and if required, destroying sUAVs is a very difficult task. Miniaturization, cutting edge electronics, including highly effective jam proof navigation systems, and ever-increasing payload sophistication make them more effective, whether purposed for surveillance, SIGINT, or attack. Moreover, clever software which facilitates deployment in swarms further exacerbates their ability to overwhelm defenses and cause harm. Anyone familiar with the role played by UAVs in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the attack on Aramco's oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and the ongoing Ukraine conflict recognizes the gravity of the threat.
Understanding the challenge is the first step in formulating an effective response. Both the means of detection and countermeasures must be appropriate to both the threat and operating environment. For example, long-range 3D radar is mandatory for the effective protection of critical assets in open terrain, but its performance cannot be fully exploited in built up areas, where smaller, lighter and less costly systems will provide the necessary performance. Moreover, if the threat is based solely on commercial type drones a COMINT sensor and Electo-Optics may be all that is needed for effective detection and identification.
The same holds true for countermeasures. For example, powerful kinetic weapons such as auto cannons firing advanced air-burst munition can provide effective area defense but wouldn't be the method of choice in densely populated urban environments. Drone killing drones and other sophisticated systems may be more appropriate. If the goal is to keep away bothersome commercial drones from an entertainment event, then less violent countermeasures will need to be employed. Nevertheless, even a relatively benign technique such as electronic jamming has limitations – it may present issues when deployed near airports, potentially interfering with vital communications.
No single sensor can provide the optimal answer to a gamut of operational scenarios but a carefully constructed multi-layered approach provides the performance and flexibility to effectively address the widest possible range of relevant threats.
High performance radars enable detection around the clock and in all weather conditions but electro-optical systems are still needed if visual identification must be confirmed. Moreover, certain weapons systems need to be slaved to electro-optics for fire control. But electro-optical systems, even those equipped with SWIR, may be hampered by weather. COMINT systems can detect a UAV's communication protocol at long ranges and in all weather, and may be all that is necessary in civilian policing applications. But what if an attack sUAV is flying autonomously?
To successfully contend with these complex challenges, the innovative subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), ELTA Systems Ltd., has leveraged its capabilities as a world leading radar and defense electronics house, to develop the Drone Guard Counter-sUAV System. Deployed in greater numbers than any competing system and field proven with leading forces worldwide, ELTA’s flexible Drone Guard is a high-end, multi-layer, multi-sensor, flexible, and scalable solution that is designed to answer complex operational requirements. Its open architecture enables the integration of a wide range of high-performance sensors, including: ELTA's class-leading array of 3D, fixed and rotating AESA radars; passive Communications Intelligence (COMINT) systems; and electro-optical (EO) systems.
Drone Guard's highly evolved Command and Control (C2) System integrates all functions into a single unified system and provides operators with the tools needed to detect, classify and counter targets. Moreover, automated threat analysis incorporating innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) based decision-making tools and highly evolved algorithms decreases operator workload and improves performance. The result is a highly effective, easily operated system that can be operated and maintained by fewer personnel.
In addition to detection and identification, Drone Guard offers a wide choice of proven solutions for threat mitigation: "cyber" takeover of the target's flight controls, disruption of its communication and/or navigation (GPS) protocol (COMJAM); or destruction using a weapons system. Regarding the latter, ELTA offers proven configurations that deliver a complete solution – from detection and identification through to target tracking data transfer for rapid closure of the firing loop. Optional effectors include COMJAM, DKD (Drone-Kill-Drone), drone deployed disruptive measures, and high accuracy stabilized gunfire from a range of weapons, from hand-held small arms through to machine guns and auto-cannons mounted on sophisticated Remote-Controlled Weapons Stations.
Drone Guard can be installed on vehicles and at fixed sites. It can also be configured as an easily transportable semi-mobile system that is stored and carried in hard cases, and a compact, lightweight fully mobile version can even be carried on foot. The most advanced configuration employs ELTA's fixed panel mobile AESA radar that performs "On-the-Move", delivering effective protection while escorting rapidly maneuvering mobile forces. The know-how to perform this challenging task, including special radar algorithms and software, is proprietary to ELTA and the result of years of development work.
Flexible architecture; a highly developed command and control system; an unmatched range of available sensors leveraging ELTA's 55-year legacy as an innovator in radar and defense electronics technology; together with an arsenal of proven countermeasures, electronic and kinetic; position Drone Guard as the leading solution to secure high value civilian and military assets against the growing and continually evolving sUAS menace. With hundreds of systems delivered to leading forces around the globe, ELTA’s Drone Guard is also the most combat proven C-sUAV solution.
For further information contact market@ELTA.co.il