Above: Rafael’s Counter-drone system incorporates RADA’s Tactical Radar
The US Army has selected the tactical radar of RADA Electronic Industries from Netanya, Israel, for its Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) systems. The Army has defined four C-sUAS categories: fixed/semi-fixed systems, mounted/mobile system, handheld systems, and command & control.
RADA’s radars are the incumbent radar system in the L-MADIS platform which was selected as the mounted/mobile system, and are incorporated in part of the recommended fixed solutions, along with other fixed solutions deployed across the US. While not relevant to handheld systems, RADA’s radars are compatible with the recommended command and control systems.
Next-generation Tactical Radars
Dov Sella, RADA’s CEO, said that the US Army preferred not only the most up-to-date existing technologies, but those new and emerging technologies currently in development. “We are in advanced development stages of our next-generation tactical radars that aim to address future challenges at highly affordable performance-to-price points.”
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), in FY2021, the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to spend at least $404 million on counter-UAS (C-UAS) research and development and at least $83 million on C-UAS procurement. In December 2019, DOD streamlined the Department’s various counter-small UAS (C-sUAS) programs, creating a the Joint C-sUAS Office (JCO). On June 25, 2020, Maj. Gen Sean Gainey, director of the JCO, announced that seven C-sUAS defensive systems and one standardized command and control system are to be further developed.
How to Tackle Drones
C-UAS can employ a number of methods to detect the presence of hostile or unauthorized UAS. The first is using electro-optical, infrared, or acoustic sensors to detect a target by its visual, heat, or sound signatures, respectively. A second method is to use radar systems. However, these methods are not always capable of detecting small UAS due to the limited signatures and size of such UAS.
A third method is identifying the wireless signals used to control the UAS, commonly using radio frequency sensors. These methods can be—and often are—combined to provide a more effective, layered detection capability. Once detected, the UAS may be engaged or disabled. Electronic warfare “jamming” can interfere with a UAS’s communications link to its operator.
Jamming devices can be as light as 5 to 10 pounds and therefore man-portable, or as heavy as several hundred pounds and in fixed locations or mounted on vehicles. UAS can also be neutralized or destroyed using guns, nets, directed energy, traditional air defense systems, or even trained animals such as eagles. DOD is developing and procuring a number of different C-UAS technologies to try to ensure a robust defensive capability.