Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021 - 24

Tech Briefs
Deceiving the Enemy: These Are the Drones You Are
Looking For
By developing UAVs for physical deception roles to shape an adversary's ability to visually observe
and orient to situations, the US military can decrease risk to air and ground combatants during
mission execution by causing adversaries to expend resources, delay their reactions, or react
incorrectly to tactical situations.
Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama

I

The MQ-1 Predator drone was first used for reconnaissance missions, and later outfitted with Hellfire missiles to conduct attacks on enemy targets.

ceive and increase the " fog of war "
against opponents of the US military
with innovative and effective physical
deception methods. Since 2001, the US
has mostly faced opponents lacking any
air defense capability beyond small
arms and unguided rockets. Still, these
" technologically-limited " opponents in
Iraq and Afghanistan inflicted losses
against many US aircraft.
Operations that require an enemy individual's direct visual observation and orientation to perform, such as aiming a
weapon by eyesight, are ideal targets for
physical deception UAVs. In particular,
two areas related to air combat missions
will benefit. One is increasing the survival
rate of combat aircraft, such as helicopters, that conduct low-altitude operations
in the range of the enemy and are susceptible to low-technology weapons such as
small arms. Another is increasing the
probability of recovering downed aircrew
in enemy controlled areas by enhancing
the confusion and reaction of enemy individuals and their command structure.
UAVs can perform deception by fooling sensors operated by an adversary and,
regardless of modern-day defenses, a UAV
might still effectively penetrate them directly to a target. Likewise, UAVs could be
used to disrupt the enemy's reaction and
understanding during tactical operations,
thereby increasing the enemy's " fog of
war. " UAVs could also be used to jam firecontrol radars and be employed as decoys
emulating the radar, infrared, and radio
signatures of fighter aircraft to increase
manned aircraft survivability.
By developing UAVs for physical deception roles to shape an adversary's
ability to visually observe and orient to
situations, the US military can better execute combat missions against future adversaries and decrease risk to air and
ground combatants during mission execution by causing adversaries to expend

24

Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2021

n August 2011, a US CH-47 Chinook
helicopter began its descent in a remote corner of Afghanistan to insert
elite Special Forces soldiers at an important objective. Unseen by the aircrew or
US reconnaissance drones, a Taliban operative fired a Rocket Propelled Grenade
(RPG) at the landing Chinook aircraft,
causing it to lose control and crash,
killing all 38 service members on board.
This situation could be prevented
through the use of creative tactical deception relying on UAVs. In this scenario, the Taliban operative-still unknown to US forces-remains hidden.
He watches multiple helicopters overfly
his position and start decelerating to
land in areas near him, in numerous directions. A more vulnerable helicopter
catches his eye as it attempts to land.
With deadly accuracy, he fires his RPG
and destroys it with a single rocket shot.
Yet not a single life is lost. The enemy
has only destroyed an unmanned, halfsize variant of an actual Chinook helicopter.
This drone helicopter was one of
twelve drone helicopters accompanying
three manned helicopters, which successfully deployed the US soldiers at the
desired objective. This is an example of
a UAV, or drone, performing a physical

deception role in combat by deceiving
an adversary's " eyes and ears " at an opportune time. Unfortunately, on the actual night in 2011 in Afghanistan, these
types of deception drones had not been
envisioned.
To date, the primary deceptive role of
UAVs has been in electronic deception,
such as deceiving the radar of an adversary's integrated air defenses into believing the unmanned aircraft were manned
attack aircraft during the opening of an
air campaign. This was exemplified by
the Israeli Air Force in 1982 as well as
the United States Air Force in 1991.
These tactics caused the adversary to expend surface-to-air missiles against deceiving drones. While electronic deception will continue to be an important
role for UAVs in future conflicts, the
maturation of UAV deception is warranted.
One aspect of deception for which
modern UAVs have not been developed
or used effectively is in the physical
realm of deception. As described in the
scenario above, this entails fooling the
actual human " eyes and ears " of an adversary, rather than their electronic
radar and tracking systems. UAVs can
operate in hostile environments with
minimal risk to personnel and can de-

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Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021

Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021 - Intro
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021 - Sponsor
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021 - Cov1
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021 - Cov2
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Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021 - Cov3
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2021 - Cov4
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