Air defense combat, UAV anti-UAV is at the right time
In many regional conflicts in recent years, UAV and anti-UAV operations have become one of the main combat styles of the warring parties. On the one hand, the number and types of drones participating in the war are increasing, and the battlefield performance is outstanding. On the other hand, the rapid development of anti-UAV technology and tactics has formed obvious constraints on UAV operations. The two sides are like two contradictory sides, and the spiral contest will have a significant impact on future wars.
The use of drones for combat has already appeared in the Vietnam War and the Middle East War. In 2001, the United States used the "Predator" drone to launch anti-tank missiles for the first time in actual combat, creating a precedent for drones to strike the ground. Since then, the application of military UAVs has become more and more extensive, and it has developed towards the integration of investigation and attack, and the integration of attack and defense.
In addition, in many regional conflicts in recent years, small and medium-sized suicide drones have been put into combat in large numbers. These UAVs have the function of cruising, which can not only perform reconnaissance missions, but also "change" missiles to attack after finding the target, so they are also called cruising missiles. For example, the American "Switchblade" 300 UAV, the Israeli "Harlop" UAV and the "Hero" series UAV, the Russian KUB-BLA UAV, etc. The Israeli "Harop" drone has repeatedly attacked the S-300PS medium and long-range surface-to-air missile system in the Naka conflict, which almost made this traditional air defense system unable to cope.
In view of the threat posed by drones on the battlefield, countries have launched countermeasures in recent years. The U.S. military ranks drones as one of the most destructive aerial threats and has developed a "Counter-UAV System Strategy" to deal with it. The Russian army has listed UAV defense operations as an important task, and practiced anti-UAV combat technology on the Syrian battlefield. The UK has made countering swarm drones a top priority, exploring ways to use radio frequency suppressors to disrupt swarm drone links.
Overall, the current main anti-UAV (drone jammer) means include electronic interference blocking, artillery missile hard kill, high-energy laser weapons and high-power microwave weapons interception.
Among them, electronic interference blocking is the most effective countermeasure. UAVs rely on communication links to operate, and communication links are most afraid of electromagnetic interference. By sending a high-power radio frequency signal to the drone, it can disrupt the control program, making it impossible to carry out the mission or crash the plane. The light air defense integrated system equipped by the U.S. Marine Corps is an electronic jamming system for UAVs. The system consists of a command vehicle and a jammer vehicle equipped with tactical air surveillance radar, small electro-optical/infrared cameras, radio frequency detection systems and radio frequency jammers to detect, track, identify drones, and use electronic attacks means to make a forced landing on it. In July 2019, the light air defense integrated system carried on the USS Boxer amphibious assault ship successfully forced an Iranian drone to land. Iran has also used similar means to take over a U.S. Sentinel stealth drone.
The interception firepower network composed of traditional anti-aircraft artillery and missiles is one of the main means to deal with UAV operations at present. The Russian "Doyle" M1 field air defense system uses a vertical launch method, and the missile responds quickly. It has shot down many types of UAVs, including the Turkish TB-2. However, the Russian-made "Armor" S1 artillery and air defense system, which is also a close-range air defense "weapon", was destroyed by drones in actual combat.
When dealing with "low, slow and small" UAVs, laser beams show the advantages of being fast, flexible, accurate, and cost-effective. For example, the 50-kilowatt high-energy laser air defense system launched by Germany's Rheinmetall is equipped with 3 laser beam transmitters, and the power is increased through beam folding technology, which can effectively deal with various air targets including drones.
High-energy microwave weapons can deal with drone swarms. The high-energy microwave weapon attacks the electronic system of the UAV through the high-power microwave beam of directional radiation. It is a new concept weapon that integrates soft and hard killing capabilities. Compared with high-energy laser weapons, microwave weapons have a longer range, are less affected by weather, and have more convenient firepower control. They are suitable for dealing with drone swarm attacks. The solid-state microwave weapon system being developed by the U.S. military has shot down dozens of drones in tests.
As UAV technology matures, UAVs are inevitably integrated into the anti-UAV combat system and have become part of air defense operations.