BAS: electronic warfare feeds the capabilities of drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles are used by both the armed forces and non-state actors. Even the smallest commercial drones can be used in weapons and cause devastating damage. As their use expands combat space, finding ways to combat them is a high priority. Norbert Neumann looks at the secret power plant behind the drones, and some of the ways the military seeks to counter them.

Autonomous and remotely controlled vehicles are heavily dependent on electronic communications and systems. As the number of tasks assigned to unmanned systems increases, there is a growing need to promote solutions to combat them against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS) and electronic warfare (EW).

Turkey ranks second in the world in the number of drones inflicted, second only to the United States, and is the largest manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But Qatari University researcher Dr Ali Bakir says that while the focus is on drones, EW capabilities play a big role in the success of unmanned operations.

“Although Turkey’s UACV unmanned aerial vehicles have been in the headlines for the past few years, KORAL has been an invisible force behind their success,” Bakir wrote in a blog post at the Royal United Services Institute.

KORAL is a ground-based radar system EW, developed and manufactured by Turkish defense manufacturer Aselsan. The electronic defense / electronic attack system consists of two trucks and is designed to silence and deceive conventional and complex types of enemy radars and analyzes multiple target signals over a wide frequency range.

KORAL provides electronic support to operations for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but also attacks operations to degrade, neutralize or destroy enemy combat capabilities. Turkey has demonstrated the importance of such an EW capability by winning wars in 2016 solely through unmanned systems in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan.

Electronic warfare feeds the capabilities of drones
KORAL is a Turkish electronic warfare machine. Credit: Aselsan

Learn from the enemy

Turkey’s statements about the successful use of its drones and EW tools have sparked discussions about how the battlefield is changing. Defense experts have begun calling for close monitoring of Ankara’s efforts to prepare for a potential new era of automated wars.

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said during the Royal Air Force’s online conference on aerospace energy: “We need to look at the lessons of others. See how Turkey operates in Libya, where it has been using the Bayraktar TB-2 UAV since mid-2019. These UAVs conducted reconnaissance, surveillance and reconnaissance and a targeting operation on the front line, supply lines and logistics bases.

Russia followed this idea and began working on its game against UAVs, including the development of concepts, methods and procedures. As in many other Russian systems, the country’s involvement in the Syrian conflict since 2015 has provided real-world experience that it could use.

In addition to working on the concepts of killer drones, most major Russian exercises today include training EW against enemy drone systems. Most often it is tests of systems REB “Borisoglebsk 2” MT-LB and R-330Zh “Resident”.

In other exercises against the UAV, Russia deployed an automated interference station “Silok-01 R-934BMV” and an advanced radio suppression system “Polyus-21”. Both of these capabilities can detect and render UAS useless by connecting to their communications and suppressing their control channels.

Moving towards compatibility

In early 2022, NATO began testing the UK manufacturer Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) against unmanned aerial vehicles. The system was developed by the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Innovate UK Support Agency.

SAPIENT is an open software architecture that helps sensors, interfaces, and decision modules work together with little or no software development. It can also increase efficiency through the use of autonomy. The UK Ministry of Defense has adopted SAPIENT as a standard for UAV countermeasures technology.

NATO also recognizes the surge in UFO malicious use and seeks to develop opportunities to counter them. Late last year, the unit began testing various systems as part of exercises on the technical compatibility of unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS TIE 21). During the tests, the SAPIENT Interface Control Document proved to be a successful candidate for the draft standard for anti-aircraft systems.

“This has established more than 70 connections between unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS) and control and management systems (C2). It also helped connect 17 advanced stand-alone sensors from different vendors to seven decision modules, ”Dstl said at the time.

While SAPIENT itself is not a UAV control system, it provides a common standard for sensing the interface, effector, fusion, and C2 elements. Following the C-UAS TIE 21, many UAV countermeasurement technology vendors have adopted SAPIENT as a standard that promotes NATO’s commitment to compatibility.

David Lagton, DSTL’s technical authority on UAS countermeasures, said in a statement: “The widespread voluntary acceptance of SAPIENT by industry across NATO has been very impressive, paving the way for an open commercial market for SAPIENT-compliant C-UAS components as the demand for rapid C-UAS engagement grows in NATO countries. ”

Electronic warfare feeds the capabilities of drones
NGJ-MB is built with an open modular architecture that allows for quick upgrades. Credit: Raytheon Intelligence & Space

Control the spectrum

Sensor and cyber services developer Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s next-generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) is an advanced electronic attack system that denies, disrupts and degrades enemy technology, including communications and air defense systems.

The NGJ-MB program is now in production and deployment following the successful completion of Milestone C for the U.S. Navy. The silencer system is planned to be used on the EA-18G Growler aircraft by 2022.

Writing about the capabilities of the system, Raytheon Intelligence & Space said: “It uses mobile [active electronically scanned array] antenna technology and a fully digital backend. It also has digital and software technologies built into the design, which increases the possibility of jamming and allows you to quickly control the beam and advanced modulation of the muffler.

This allows NGJ-MB to operate from enlarged ranges, attack multiple targets simultaneously and use advanced interference techniques.

Although the company does not advertise the system as a special UAS counteraction system, as UAS is highly dependent on the ranges that NGJ-MB may violate, there is no doubt that NGJ-MB will prove to be an effective tool in combating unmanned threats .

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