Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022 - 30

Tech Briefs
Hardening Unmanned Aerial Systems Against High-Power
Microwave Threats in Support of Forward Operations
Counter-UAS (C-UAS) weapons utilizing pulsed high-power microwave (HPM) energy pose a significant
problem for UAS in offensive and defensive combat roles by causing electromagnetic interference
(EMI) that can produce effects ranging from upset to system damage.
Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
U
nmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) continue
to play an increasing role
across the spectrum of military operations.
Advances in human-machine
teaming, additive manufacturing,
power cell density, and autonomy will
position these systems to become an
integral part of missions that fall inside
an adversary's operational reach in the
near future.
The global power projection capability
of the United States, largely unchallenged
since the end of the Cold War, is
increasingly in question. State adversaries
are rapidly developing and extending
the range of anti-access/area denial
(A2/AD) capabilities, while seeking
inexpensive counters to exquisite US
systems. Consequently, the US will likely
be forced to operate within the reach
of its enemies in the very near future.
In this context, the execution and
defense of rapid-deployable, distributed
Pulse entry through
aperture
Back door coupling
to components and
connections
forward operations will be essential.
The Airpower Vistas Research Task
Force (AVRTF) 2017, comprised of students
from the Air War College and Air
Command and Staff College, was tasked
by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force
with detailing the scope of these anticipated
threats in 2025 to forward operations
and operating locations across
the Combatant Commands. While
unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will
play an increasing and integral role in
these operations, their vulnerability to
counter-UAS weapons utilizing high
power microwaves (HPM) must be
explored and mitigated.
Defining this unique problem set
requires looking two steps ahead in the
development and implementation of
UAS and C-UAS technology. The capability
of UAS to fill greater combat roles
within an adversary's operational reach
is being recognized and developed at
several Department of Defense institutions,
including the Air Force Research
Laboratory (AFRL) and Sandia National
Laboratory (SNL). Advancements in
automation, power cell capacity, additive
manufacturing, and swarming algorithms
position UAS as a formidable
and highly flexible part of operations
ranging from ISR to attacking air,
ground, and maritime targets. Counter-UAS
(C-UAS) technology is also in
rapid development and includes weapons
that disrupt the electromagnetic
spectrum.
Front door coupling
to antenna
High power microwave weapons use
intentional electromagnetic interference
(EMI) to disrupt, damage, or destroy
electronic systems. Unlike other directed
energy (DE) weapons, HPM are not
attenuated greatly by atmospheric obstacles
such as clouds, rain and fog. While
currently expensive to develop, the costper-shot
of these systems is relatively
low. Unlike lasers, they typically have a
wide aperture and are of particular use as
area weapons against electronics.
These characteristics make HPM systems
ideal for use against UAS being utilized
either individually or in swarms.
C-UAS systems that use HPM have been
just out of reach for decades, as the massive
power requirements for such weapons
have been impractical. Recent
advances in this field, however, have
produced capable systems that, if used
in an offensive posture, can pose a
threat to defensive UAS constructs.
Therefore, the US cannot continue to
increase the role of UAS without likewise
considering their vulnerabilities to
HPM weapons.
Pulse entry through
outer mold line
The EMI energy that reaches the target induces effects by coupling to the component in one of two ways.
" Front door " coupling occurs when energy enters the system directly through a normally utilized input
device, such as an antenna. " Back door " coupling is the entrance of energy into the system by the field of
electric potential that surrounds it.
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mobilityengineeringtech.com
ADT Tech Briefs 0522_1.indd 30
Intro
Cov
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This work was done by Major Coningsby
J. Burdon for the Air University. For more
information, download the Technical
Support Package (free white paper) at
mobilityengineeringtech.com/tsp under
the Unmanned Vehicles & Robotics category.
AFIT-0006
Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2022
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https://www.mobilityengineeringtech.com/component/content/article/ae/pub/briefs/45802 http://www.mobilityengineeringtech.com http://info.hotims.com/82321-830

Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022

Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022 - Intro
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022 - Cov 4
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022 - Cov 1
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022 - Cov 2
Aerospace & Defense Technology - May 2022 - 1
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