The most obvious and effective way to counter the UAV is the detection of such equipment with subsequent destruction. To solve this problem can be used as existing samples of military equipment, modified accordingly, and new systems. For example, the domestic air defense systems of the latest models in the course of development or updating have the ability to track not only airplanes or helicopters, but also unmanned aerial vehicles. Also provides support and destruction of such objects. Depending on the type and characteristics of the target, a variety of air defense systems with different characteristics can be used.
One of the main issues in the destruction of enemy equipment is its detection, followed by tracking. The structure of most modern types of anti-aircraft systems includes radar detection stations with various characteristics. The probability of detecting an air target depends on some parameters, primarily on its effective dispersion area (ESR). Relatively large UAVs are characterized by greater EPR, which facilitates their detection. In the case of small-sized devices, including those built with extensive use of plastics, the ESR decreases, and the task of detection is seriously complicated.
However, when creating advanced air defense tools, measures are being taken to improve detection performance. This development leads to the expansion of the EPR ranges and target velocities at which it can be detected and taken for tracking. The latest domestic and foreign air defense systems and other air defense systems are able to deal not only with large targets in the form of manned aircraft, but also with drones. In recent years, this quality has become mandatory for new systems, and therefore is always mentioned in promotional materials for promising samples.
After detecting a potentially dangerous target, it should identify it and determine which object entered the airspace. The correct solution of such a task will make it possible to determine the need for an attack, as well as to establish target characteristics necessary for choosing the right weapon. In some cases, the correct choice of means of destruction can be associated not only with the excessive consumption of inappropriate ammunition, but also with the negative consequences of a tactical nature.
After successful detection and recognition of enemy technology, the air defense system must carry out the attack and destroy it. To do this, use weapons that match the type of target detected. For example, large UAVs of reconnaissance or attack purposes, which are at a high altitude, should be hit with anti-aircraft missiles. In the case of low-altitude and low-speed light-class vehicles, it makes sense to use barreled weapons with the appropriate ammunition. In particular, artillery systems with controlled remote disruption have great potential in the fight against UAVs.
An interesting feature of modern unmanned aerial vehicles, which should be considered when countering such systems, is the direct dependence of size, range and payload. Thus, light vehicles can operate at distances of no more than a few tens or hundreds of kilometers from the operator, and their payload consists only of reconnaissance equipment. Heavy vehicles, in turn, are able to go a greater distance and carry not only optical-electronic systems, but also weapons.
As a result, an effective air defense system capable of covering large areas with a set of anti-aircraft weapons with different parameters and different radii of action turns out to be a rather effective means of countering the enemy’s unmanned technology. In this case, the elimination of large devices will be the task of long-range complexes, and small-radius systems will be able to protect the covered area from light UAVs.
More complex targets are lightweight drones, characterized by their small size and low ESR. Nevertheless, there are already some systems capable of fighting this technique, producing detection and attacking it. One of the newest models of such systems is the Pantsir-С1 anti-aircraft missile system. It has several different means of detection, targeting and armament, which ensure the destruction of air targets, including small-sized ones, which are particularly difficult for anti-aircraft systems.
The Pantsir-C1 combat vehicle carries an 1PC1-1Е early-warning radar based on a phased array antenna capable of tracking the entire surrounding area. There is also a target tracking station 1PC2-E, the task of which is to continuously monitor the detected object and further missile guidance. If necessary, an optoelectronic detection station can be used that is capable of detecting and tracking targets.
According to reports, the Pantsir-С1 air-defense missile system is capable of detecting large air targets at distances up to 80 km. In case the target has an ESR at the level of 2 sq. M, detection and tracking is provided at the 36 and 30 km ranges, respectively. For objects with an EPR of 0,1 sq. M, the range of damage reaches 20 km. It is reported that the minimum effective scattering area of the target, in which the Pantsyrya-C1 radar is capable of detecting, reaches the 2-3 square cm, but at the same time, the work range does not exceed several kilometers.
Armament complex "Pantsir-C1". In the center of the tracking radar, on either side of it 30-mm guns and containers (empty) guided missiles. Photo author
The characteristics of the radar stations allow the Pantsir-С1 complex to find and take to support targets of various sizes with different EPR parameters. In particular, there is the possibility of detecting and tracking small reconnaissance vehicles. After determining the parameters of the target and deciding on its destruction, the calculation of the complex has the opportunity to choose the most effective means of destruction.
For larger targets, guided missiles 57E6E and 9М335 can be used. These products are built on a two-stage bicalyber scheme and are capable of hitting targets at altitudes up to 18 km and a distance of 20 km. The maximum speed of the attacked target reaches 1000 m / s. Targets in the near zone can be destroyed with the help of two double-barreled anti-aircraft gun 2А38 of caliber 30 mm. Four barrels are capable of a total of up to 5 thousand shots per minute and attack targets at distances up to 4 km.
In theory, countermeasures to drones, including light ones, can be carried out with the help of other short-range anti-aircraft systems. If necessary, the existing complex can be upgraded using new means of detection and tracking, the characteristics of which ensure the work with the UAV. However, at present it is proposed not only to improve existing systems, but also to create completely new ones, including those based on principles of operation that are unusual for the armed forces.
In 2014, the US Navy and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions upgraded the USS Ponce (LPD-15) landing craft, during which it received new weapons and related equipment. The ship was equipped with an AN / SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System or XN-1 LaWS. The main element of the new complex is a solid-state infrared laser of adjustable power, capable of "producing" up to 30 kW.
The combat module of the XN-1 LaWS system of American development on the deck of the USS Ponce (LPD-15). Photo of Wikimedia Commons
It is assumed that the complex XN-1 LaWS can be used by naval forces for self-defense against unmanned vehicles and small surface targets. By changing the energy of the "shot" can be adjusted to the degree of impact on the target. Thus, low-power modes will be able to temporarily disable the observation system of the enemy apparatus, and the full power allows you to count on physical damage to individual elements of the target. Thus, the laser system is able to protect the ship from various threats, featuring a certain flexibility of application.
Tests of the AN / SEQ-3 laser complex were initiated in the middle of the 2014 year. Initially, the system was used with the power limit of the “shot” to 10 kW. In the future, it was planned to conduct a series of inspections with a gradual increase in capacity. The estimated 30 kW was planned to be released in the 2016 year. Interestingly, during the early stages of testing the laser complex, the carrier ship was sent to the Persian Gulf. Part of the tests took place off the shores of the Middle East.
It is planned that if it is necessary to combat the UAV, the shipborne laser complex will be used to destroy individual elements of the enemy equipment or to completely disable it. In the first case, the laser will be able to "blind" or render the optical-electronic systems used to control the drone and receive intelligence information. At maximum power and in some situations, the laser can even cause damage to various parts of the device, which will not allow it to continue to perform tasks.
It is noteworthy that the laser systems to combat UAVs are not only interested in the Navy, but also in the US Army. Thus, in the interests of the army, Boeing is developing a pilot project for Compact Laser Weapon Systems (CLWS). The objective of this project is to create a small-sized laser weapon system, which can be transported using light technology or by a two-person crew. The result of the design work was the emergence of a complex consisting of two main units and a power source.
Complex Boeing CLWS in working position. Photo Boeing.com
The CLWS complex is equipped with a laser power of only 2 kW, which made it possible to achieve acceptable combat characteristics with compact dimensions. Nevertheless, despite the lower power in comparison with other similar complexes, the CLWS system is capable of solving the assigned combat missions. The capabilities of the complex to combat unmanned aerial vehicles was confirmed in practice last year.
In August last year, during the Black Dart exercise, tests of the CLWS complex took place in conditions close to real ones. The training and combat task of the calculation was the detection, support and destruction of small-sized UAVs. The CLWS automation system successfully took a target to accompany the target in the form of a classic layout apparatus, and then directed the laser beam to the tail of the target. As a result of exposure of the plastic aggregates of the target during 10-15, several parts ignited causing an open flame. The tests were considered successful.
Anti-aircraft systems armed with missiles, guns or lasers can be quite effective means of countering or destroying drones. They allow you to detect targets, take them to escort, and then carry out an attack with subsequent destruction. The result of such work should be the destruction of enemy equipment, stopping the execution of the combat mission.
Nevertheless, other methods of "non-lethal" opposition to the target are possible. For example, laser systems can not only destroy UAVs, but also deprive them of the ability to perform reconnaissance or other tasks by temporarily or permanently disabling optical systems using a high-power beam.
Attack of the UAV system CLWS, shooting in the infrared range. Observed destruction of the target design due to the heating by the laser. Shot from Boeing.com promotional video
There is another way to deal with drones, not implying the destruction of technology. Modern devices with remote control support two-way communication over the air with the operator's console. In this case, the operation of the complex can be disrupted or even eliminated with the help of electronic warfare systems. Modern EW systems can detect and suppress communication and control channels with the help of interference, after which the unmanned complex loses the possibility of full-fledged work. Such an impact does not lead to the destruction of technology, but does not allow it to work and perform its tasks. UAVs can only respond to such a threat in several ways: by protecting the communication channel by adjusting the operating frequency and using automatic operation algorithms in case of loss of communication.
According to some information, the possibility of using electromagnetic systems against drones that hit a target with a powerful impulse is being studied at a theoretical level. There are references to the development of such complexes, although details of such projects, as well as the possibility of their use against UAVs, are not yet available.
Very interesting is the fact that progress in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles has significantly outstripped the development of countermeasures for such equipment. Currently, various countries are armed with a certain number of anti-aircraft complexes of “traditional” classes capable of detecting and attacking drones of different classes with different characteristics. There is also some progress in terms of EW systems. Non-standard and unusual interception systems, in turn, cannot yet leave the test stage of prototypes.
Unmanned technology does not stand still. In many countries of the world, similar systems of all known classes are being developed, and a foundation is being created for the emergence of new unusual complexes. In the future, all these works will lead to the re-equipment of UAV groups with improved technology, including completely new classes. For example, the development of ultra-small devices with a size of no more than a few centimeters and a gram weight is being worked out. Such a development of technology, as well as progress in other areas, impose special requirements on advanced protection systems. The designers of air defense, electronic warfare and other systems now need to take into account new threats in their projects.
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