While the combat drone successes of countries such as Turkey and Iran have made many headlines in recent years, it could be electronic warfare (EW) technologies developed to counter uncrewed aerial systems that will grab the limelight in years ahead.
The issue is explored by the Army Technology site, which notes how autonomous and remotely-operated vehicles are heavily reliant on electronic communications and systems.
“As the number of tasks transferred to uncrewed systems increases, the need for the advancement of counter-uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and electronic warfare (EW) solutions to combat them also rises,” the journal notes.
Turkey is second in the world in terms of the number of drone strikes it carries out, behind only the US, and it is the largest manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Its use of drones—combined with the KORAL system EW capabilities produced by Turkish defence manufacturer Aselsan that shield the drones by jamming and deceiving conventional and complex types of hostile radar—have prompted many discussions on the changing nature of the battlefield.
Army Technology reports: “Besides working on drone-killer UAV concepts, most major Russian drills today involve EW training against adversary drone systems. These most often include the testing of Borisoglebsk 2 MT-LB and R-330Zh Zhitel ground vehicle EW systems.
“In other counter-UAV exercises, Russia deployed the Silok-01 R-934BMV automated jamming station and the Pole-21 advanced radio suppression system. Both of these capabilities can detect and render UAS useless by tapping into their communications and suppressing their control channels.”
Nato, the journal observes, began trialling the UK-produced Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) counter-drone solution at the beginning of 2022. It was developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and support agency Innovate UK.
The defence bloc reportedly began testing various systems under the counter-uncrewed air system technical interoperability exercise (C-UAS TIE 21) at the end of last year.
Sensor and cyber service developer Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s Next-Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) system is described as an advanced electronic attack system that denies, disrupts and degrades enemy technology including communication tools and air-defence systems.
The NGJ-MB programme is currently in the production and deployment phase after successfully completing Milestone C for the US Navy. The jammer system is set to be used on the EA-18G Growler aircraft by 2022, according to Army Technology.