Directed energy beams can be the next step in destroying hostile drones.
“This technology is evolving very quickly and we are evaluating both microwave radiation and lasers as weapons against unmanned aerial vehicles,” said Colonel Salvatore Lombardi, director of the Air Force’s UAV Center of Excellence.
He also added that NATO countries will jointly test various types of weapons against drones in October.
Until lasers are approved, the Air Force will continue to use an anti-drone defense system called the ACUS, or Air Force Counter Unmanned System, which fights drone threats using radio frequencies and GPS jamming. With this system, you can hit the drones or capture them with a net.
To detect, track and identify drones, the system uses a radio frequency detector that senses commands given to the drone by its operator, as well as radar and electro-optical sensors. With the future in mind, the system is built with an open, modular and scalable architecture that allows for plug-ins.
The components for the Air Force installation are provided by the Italian defense company Leonardo, which also supplies the British Royal Air Force with counter-drone technology. The company is currently developing its radar technology to better detect threats from drones, with smarter algorithms and passive radar. Unlike conventional radar, which emits a signal and waits for it to bounce off a target, passive radar picks up signals that are emitted elsewhere and deviate from the target. This becomes useful in cities where there is a lot of television, cell phones and other signals.
Algorithms are also being developed to distinguish the radar images of drones from, for example, seagulls, or to find out which drone in a flock is carrying a bomb.
As drones become more autonomous, which means fewer radio transmissions, the ability to use RF detection may be reduced, making radar more critical.