JED - September 2017 - 37

TECHNOLOGY SURVEY
A SAMPLING OF COUNTER-UAS SYSTEMS
By John Knowles

their manual operation and small size usually limit their effective range to just a few hundred meters or less.
More sophisticated systems usually employ one or more
sensors, such as communications electronic support measures
(ESM), direction finding (DF), radar, electro-optic systems,
and sometimes acoustic sensors to detect and track drones at
longer distances (up to 10 km). These sensor inputs are usually fused via a command and control system, which then cues
jamming countermeasures. These types of counter-UAS systems are typically used in fixed-site applications or in portable
configurations for temporary situations (encampments, public
events, etc.) in which there is sufficient time to set them up.
No single countermeasures capability fits every situation.
RF jammers and WIFI disruptors, for example, are well suited
for situations (such as protecting public spaces) in which it is
dangerous to shoot down a drone or force it to crash land near
a crowd. However, kinetic countermeasures, as well as HPEM
and high-energy lasers, may find more utility in military operations, where a swarm of drones may be present, or in which
RF interference from jammers could be problematic for other
military systems.
One of the reasons why counter-UAS systems have appeared
on the market so quickly is that they mostly leverage existing
sensors and countermeasures technologies. The basic communications ESM, radar and EO technologies used in most counter-UAS solution have been around for some time. Likewise,
many of the jamming systems used against drones are provided
by the same companies that have been manufacturing counter
RCIED jammers over the past decade.
In the survey table that follows, the first column lists the
model name. Working from left to right, the next few columns
cover the sensors used to detect, and track the drones. (In
the case of manpack "drone guns," the detection and tracking
sensors are usually humans.) The next column indicates if the
counter-UAS system features a command and control capability
with a workstation or other type of user interface. The next
few columns cover the system's countermeasures characteristics, followed by size, weight and platform information. This
market is fairly young, and companies continue to introduce
new counter-UAS systems on the market on a regular basis.
Also, several companies (particularly in the US) do not publicize information about their counter-UAS products. Still, we
attempted to make our list as comprehensive as possible.
Next month, JED's technology survey will focus on communications intelligence (COMINT) and communications direction
finding (comms DF) receivers.

The Journal of Electronic Defense | September 2017

T

his month's technology survey addresses a relatively new topic - counter-UAS systems, also known
as counter-drone systems. The emergence of the
counter-UAS systems market is tied to the explosive popularity of commercial mini-drones over the
past several years. These small, inexpensive, lowflying drones, are typically equipped with a camera, and are
sometimes modified to carry and drop munitions. Their wide
availability means that they offer new security challenges for
deployed military forces, as well as domestic military installations, government facilities and large public events.
Note that this survey will focus on counter-UAS systems
and not merely "drone detection systems" that do not feature
a countermeasure against the drone. Furthermore, counter-UAS
systems can be divided between those that use kinetic countermeasures and those that employ non-kinetic countermeasures.
Kinetic countermeasures can include small arms, nets that are
shot into the air, interceptor drones, and even specially trained
birds of prey. Non-kinetic counter-drone solutions include RF
barrage jamming of the drone's control link, taking over a
drone's Wi-Fi control link, or jamming the drone's navigation
system, as well as directed energy weapons, such as high-power
electromagnetic (HPEM) and high-energy lasers. This month's
survey will focus on non-kinetic counter-UAS systems.
Commercial drones use low-cost receivers that operate over
just a small number of frequencies for their command links, datalinks, and navigation. These inexpensive receivers are quite
vulnerable to jamming. In addition, most drones use command
links based on open software protocols, which are easy to commandeer and take over control of the drone. Some drones rely
on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as GPS,
GLONASS and Galileo. These signals can be jammed or spoofed,
forcing the drone to land or to fly back to their launch point.
As mentioned earlier, drones can pose a security challenge
in a variety of situations, from military operations to facilities
to large public gatherings. This has led drone countermeasures
companies to offer counter-UAS systems in several configurations that range from integrated fixed-site systems to small
manpack "drone guns."
Beginning with the simplest of these solutions, "drone
guns" typically comprise a manpack jamming system fitted
with a handheld directional antenna, such as a log periodic
dipole array. The user points the directional antenna at the
drone and forces it to land either by jamming its control link,
commandeering its control link, or jamming its GNSS receiver.
Their portability makes these systems easy to deploy, although

37



JED - September 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - September 2017

The View from Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Army Brigade Electronic Warfare Weapons Teams Learn New Lessons at NTC
Technology Survey: Counter-UAS Systems
EW 101
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - September 2017 - intro
JED - September 2017 - cover1
JED - September 2017 - cover2
JED - September 2017 - 3
JED - September 2017 - 4
JED - September 2017 - 5
JED - September 2017 - The View from Here
JED - September 2017 - 7
JED - September 2017 - Conferences Calendar
JED - September 2017 - 9
JED - September 2017 - Courses Calendar
JED - September 2017 - 11
JED - September 2017 - From the President
JED - September 2017 - 13
JED - September 2017 - 14
JED - September 2017 - The Monitor
JED - September 2017 - insert1
JED - September 2017 - insert2
JED - September 2017 - 16
JED - September 2017 - 17
JED - September 2017 - Washington Report
JED - September 2017 - 19
JED - September 2017 - World Report
JED - September 2017 - 21
JED - September 2017 - Army Brigade Electronic Warfare Weapons Teams Learn New Lessons at NTC
JED - September 2017 - 23
JED - September 2017 - 24
JED - September 2017 - 25
JED - September 2017 - 26
JED - September 2017 - 27
JED - September 2017 - 28
JED - September 2017 - 29
JED - September 2017 - 30
JED - September 2017 - 31
JED - September 2017 - 32
JED - September 2017 - 33
JED - September 2017 - 34
JED - September 2017 - 35
JED - September 2017 - 36
JED - September 2017 - Technology Survey: Counter-UAS Systems
JED - September 2017 - 38
JED - September 2017 - 39
JED - September 2017 - 40
JED - September 2017 - 41
JED - September 2017 - 42
JED - September 2017 - 43
JED - September 2017 - 44
JED - September 2017 - EW 101
JED - September 2017 - 46
JED - September 2017 - 47
JED - September 2017 - 48
JED - September 2017 - Index of Advertisers
JED - September 2017 - JED Quick Look
JED - September 2017 - cover3
JED - September 2017 - cover4
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