By Arie Egozi
Swarms of armed UAV’s are a threat taken very seriously by Israel and other countries.
UAV’s have been used in recent years by terror organizations to enter the Israeli airspace. All these attempts were encountered by air-air and ground – air weapons systems. But now a new threat is emerging very fast – attacks by swarms of armed UAV.
The threat was exposed last year, when the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed its forces in Syria were attacked by a swarm of home-made drones – the first time such a coordinated assault has been reported in a military action.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, forces at the Khmeimim Air Base and Tartus Naval Facility have foiled the attack.
The official spokesman added that at night fall, the Russia air defence forces detected 13 unidentified small-size air targets at a significant distance approaching the Russian military bases.
“Ten assault drones were approaching the Khmeimim air base, and another three – the base in Tartus.”
According to the Russian statement, six of the assault force drones were intercepted by Russian electronic warfare units, with three of the UAS being brought to land outside the base, while the remaining three exploded on contact with the ground.
Another seven drones were “eliminated” by Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missiles fired by the Russians, with the bases reporting no casualties or damage, the statement explains.
While in photographs, the improvised UAVs used in the assault look primitive, the Russians said they were armed with explosives and launched from a site more than 30 miles away from the attacked zones, this by using GPS and altitude-control sensors.
The Ministry says a technical examination indicates these drones would have an effective attacking range of about 62 miles.
It’s still not known who launched the swarm, but the Russians have hinted that the technology used was too advanced for local militants.
Many countries are developing armed UAS. The most recent one to be exposed is the Muhajer-6 equipped with a new home-made smart bomb dubbed “Ghaem,” It is the first UAV of the Mohajer series that is armed with a guided weapon system.
The Iranian effort to develop new armed UAV and this country deep involvement in Lebanon and Syria, is worrying Israel.
In recent years the Israeli air force (IAF) has foiled the attempts made by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas in Gaza to penetrate the Israeli airspace probably for intelligence purposes.
The IAF used air-air missiles and ground-air missiles to destroy the UAV.
The growing threat has brought Israeli companies to develop countermeasures.
Last year, IAI unveiled the Drone Guard a system for drone detection, identification and flight disruption.
The ELTA division of IAI has developed a special system that integrates a 3-Dimensional (3D) radar and Electro-Optical (EO) sensors for detection and identification, as well as dedicated Electronic Attack (EA) jamming systems for disrupting drone flight.
To detect low signature, low-level and low-speed airborne targets, ELTA has adapted to this specific mission its 3D radars, which include the ELM-2026D, ELM-2026Band ELM-2026BF for short (10km), medium (15km) and long (20 km) ranges, respectively, with special drone detection and tracking algorithms, as well as adapting them with EO sensors for visual identification of the target.
In order to disrupt the hostile UAV, ELTA has developed advanced adaptive jamming systems which can be used in concert with its detection and identification sensors, or as a continuously operated stand-alone system. The jamming disrupts the drone’s flight and can either cause it to return to its point-of-origin (‘Return Home’ function) or to shut down and make a crash landing.
The threat is considered very serious by other countries. Last year IAI has been awarded a contract to supply anti drone systems to the US Air Force.
Rafael has also developed an anti-drone system. The Drone Dome has 360° circular coverage and is designed to detect, track, and neutralize drones classified as threats flying in No-Fly zones.
First, the threat is detected and identified by the Radar and EO/IR sensors. The data is combined and correlated and alerts the operator of the hostile UAV. The system initiates either automatic interference operation, as per pre-defined rules in the C4I engine, or manual operation by the operator. When the threat reaches the neutralization area, the hostile drone is neutralized by activation of directional GNSS and RF Inhibitor/Jammer system.