IAI: Drone Guard to protect Critical Sites

As Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and drones become more common in our daily life, they also become potential threats. Whether used by innocent enthusiasts to snoop into a local airport, smuggle drugs or weapons into a prison, or laden with explosive on a terrorist attack, drones are regarded as potential danger for certain critical assets and secured locations. However, the means available to regulate and control drone access to protected areas are limited.

Small, slow and low flying vehicles multirotor drones are hardly spotted from the ground by radar, camera or the human eye. When spotted over sensitive areas such as airports, drones can cause significant disruptions – as the three-day closure of London Gatwick in December 2018 showed. Such incidents make it clear that authorities need new tools to regulate and enforce drone restrictions so on to ensure public safety, security and privacy.

Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) operationally proven Drone Guard counter-UAS system meets such needs. The latest version has been optimised for operation in high security environments such as airports, prisons and strategic infrastructures. As a system integrating multiple sensors to detect, classify, identify and track drone targets, the Drone Guard employs a multi-layered approach to manage drone activity and neutralise those suspected to be dangerous or hostile.

When protecting a secured site such as an airport or other highly secured facility, Drone Guard can be controlled from the operations centres. The system’s sensors and effectors may be located in multiple outposts, in fixed or temporarily locations covering the entire premises. Deployment of multiple units enable operators to employ electronic means to effectively jam and  ‘takeover’ or “spoof” suspected drones using low power effectors, thus minimizing the potential of electromagnetic interference. Such an array monitors the entire secured area, both inside and out, effectively detecting and locating drone activity immediately as it appears and even locates their operators beyond the protected perimeter. Such systems also track the activity of drones authorised to operate inside protected areas.

The system relies on radar and Communications Intelligence (COMINT) as the means to detect drone activity in and around the protected area. Some types of radars can even track hovering drones, or drones being prepared for takeoff, by the unique signature emitted by their rotors. The radar used for the Drone Guard is the ELTA ELM-2026B X-band radar, as first line of detection which is robust, based only on the drone movement and not on radio transmission. The radar detects targets in all weather conditions.

The passive COMINT is used to detect and classify drone activity by electromagnetic signals emitted from the drone and ground control units. Based on advanced techniques derived from military systems, Drone Guard intercepts and interprets both familiar signals from commercial systems as well as unfamiliar signals of hacked drones. Drone Guard’s COMINT detects such signals from several kilometres, including in situations beyond the line of sight of EO and radar sensors.

Once the drone presence is verified, the radar directs the Electro-Optical (EO) system to identify it, this being the Drone Guard’s third sensing channel, to visually verify a target and track it within the line of sight. As a passive sensor, EO can track targets that have minimal radar reflection and no electromagnetic signature. 

Electronic countermeasures are basically used against drone’s control and navigation channels, using different protocols to ‘fend off’ from the guarded premises or bring it down safely using cyber ‘takeover’ and spoofing methods. In a civilian environment the use of electronic countermeasures, such as GPS or communications jamming is restricted, as it may jeopardise air traffic safety, other counter-UAS measures are employed. In such events Drone Guard supports various 'Hard Kill' measures, such as net guns and firearms, having special sights to effectively engage drones when they are in sight.

Employing the latest software defined electronics to provide an agile and adaptable C-UAS platform sets Drone Guard apart from numerous C-UAS systems available in the market. Based on operational lessons learned ELTA  has tailored Drone Guard to address a wide range of applications, from relatively simple deployments monitoring and alerting drone activity in a civilian area to conduct military C-UAS missions within a challenging electromagnetic environment, Drone Guard is best prepared to counter present and evolving threats and endure the most challenging situations.

Courtesy : IAI