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Counter UAS

FJAG

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A couple of months ago (just as the Soviets Russians were beginning to bog down) I did an interview reaching back to 2007 where an artillery observer working with a combat team in complex terrain in Pashmul that was ambushed by roughly a platoon sized force used a TUAV to identify and track the ambush party as it disengaged, set up a cut-off strike with artillery which besides killing a number froze them in place and allowed multiple strikes by A-10s. During this period he never really saw the enemy himself and all communications were done by radios because we were only just beginning to acquire ROVR.

What has struck me particularly about the Ukraine scenario is how little the Russians have done since 2007, or 2014 or, 2020. Or for that matter the West. Our collective air defence capabilities are stuck in Cold War concepts albeit some (but not all) of the weapon system have improved. In short they remained targeted on high performance, high cost aircraft being engaged by high performance, high cost missiles (and in static positions - in which I include ships - high performance, high cost guns)

We seem to have lost the bubble (literally) on protecting the mobile field force against swarms of low cost sensors and effectors. And, IMHO, swarms of low cost sensors and attack munitions will simply become more prevalent as time and technology move forward.

Which leaves us with two predominant questions:

1 How do we protect/defend the mobile field force from these systems in an efficient and cost effective manner? and

2 Will we ever acquire our own systems of low cost sensors and attack munitions so that we can actually strike back?

:unsure:
 

FJAG

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And let me add to my last post, that the problem of low cost airborne sensors and low cost attack munitions will very quickly become not only an issue for peer-to-peer high-intensity combat. They will become a very real threat to many low intensity conflicts and even peace keeping missions. Consider how much a rag-tag insurgency force with very rudimentary arms degraded and nullified much of the high tech capability of Western forces in Afghanistan without having airborne sensors and attack munitions.

The lower down the scale of conflict that you go, the more it becomes necessary to have large numbers of widely distributed self-defence systems against low cost airborne threats rather than complex umbrella shields. Widely distributed mandates low cost but still effective.

🍻
 

Underway

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What has struck me particularly about the Ukraine scenario is how little the Russians have done since 2007, or 2014 or, 2020. Or for that matter the West. Our collective air defence capabilities are stuck in Cold War concepts albeit some (but not all) of the weapon system have improved. In short they remained targeted on high performance, high cost aircraft being engaged by high performance, high cost missiles (and in static positions - in which I include ships - high performance, high cost guns)
Russian EW assets can/have provide(d) directed Electronic jamming to the point where many Ukrainian drones just fall out of the sky. That's been observed since 2014, but they are in limited numbers. Similarly EW onboard ships (heck some FC Radars) can jam up and disrupt these small drones. Hundreds of UAV's have died in Ukraine in the last 8 years to those and other smaller kinetic effects.

The problem here is that "Charismatic Kinetic Effects TM" steal all the headlines. It looks like militaries are focusing on big effects and big weapons, they cost the most money. But tell me, what do we know about EW? Probably not much because its either a) not understood by the layperson (and most military folks) or b) secret so no one talks about it or c) boring (which it is, so boring), how exciting is a green box? Are EW contracts linked on this forum like a new missile contract is? DEW only get press when its a laser or railgun because they are kinetic.

There are weapons that will knock out drone swarms. Starting with the Growler EA aircraft as an obvious one.
 

OldSolduer

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So to defend against a UAV how about a detection system and a low cost missile that is basically a big shot gun shell?

I will get back to my crayons now.
 

dimsum

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So to defend against a UAV how about a detection system and a low cost missile that is basically a big shot gun shell?
Or other small UAS. Imagine a friendly cloud of mosquitoes* whose job is to attack unfriendly clouds of mosquitoes.

* Yes, a "friendly cloud of mosquitoes" sounds silly. I know.
 

Kirkhill

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And let me add to my last post, that the problem of low cost airborne sensors and low cost attack munitions will very quickly become not only an issue for peer-to-peer high-intensity combat. They will become a very real threat to many low intensity conflicts and even peace keeping missions. Consider how much a rag-tag insurgency force with very rudimentary arms degraded and nullified much of the high tech capability of Western forces in Afghanistan without having airborne sensors and attack munitions.

The lower down the scale of conflict that you go, the more it becomes necessary to have large numbers of widely distributed self-defence systems against low cost airborne threats rather than complex umbrella shields. Widely distributed mandates low cost but still effective.

🍻

And what happens when this, with or without the grenade,

1652895421304.png

meets this carrier.

1652895369327.png

In addition to sight, add acoustic, seismic, and scent sensors that can be broadly dispersed then perch quietly for extended periods or be relocated at will.
 

Kirkhill

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Russian EW assets can/have provide(d) directed Electronic jamming to the point where many Ukrainian drones just fall out of the sky. That's been observed since 2014, but they are in limited numbers. Similarly EW onboard ships (heck some FC Radars) can jam up and disrupt these small drones. Hundreds of UAV's have died in Ukraine in the last 8 years to those and other smaller kinetic effects.

The problem here is that "Charismatic Kinetic Effects TM" steal all the headlines. It looks like militaries are focusing on big effects and big weapons, they cost the most money. But tell me, what do we know about EW? Probably not much because its either a) not understood by the layperson (and most military folks) or b) secret so no one talks about it or c) boring (which it is, so boring), how exciting is a green box? Are EW contracts linked on this forum like a new missile contract is? DEW only get press when its a laser or railgun because they are kinetic.

There are weapons that will knock out drone swarms. Starting with the Growler EA aircraft as an obvious one.

Hundreds have died over 15 years. But what happens when you deploy them by the thousands? Like these subminitions? And yes I know these particular ones are illegal - but the concept and the priniple are sound - add burst transmission and frequency hopping and perching together.

 

FJAG

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But tell me, what do we know about EW?
One of the problems with EW is its two-sided edge in that it can interfere with many things that you want to keep operating.

A potential solution - not a panacea, though.

🍻
 

KevinB

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One of the problems with EW is its two-sided edge in that it can interfere with many things that you want to keep operating.

A potential solution - not a panacea, though.

🍻
Some do, other options are more focused directionally. Think like a LRAD system, but less oriented towards incapacitation/degradation of humans, but enemy UAS/UCV.

Most commercial drones are easy EW kills that won’t affect friendly shielded systems.
 

KevinB

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As @Underway alluded to above most of the non kinetic methods are heavily classified.
A lot of OS originating DOD or other Gov programs in this realm quickly fall under secret or higher, as issues they bring forward are identified.
 

Fabius

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Some miscellaneous thoughts on the problem having discussed this with various audiences and having some (limited) experience with UAS feeds.

- Defeat the operator not the system. UAS feeds still generally need a good operator/ analyst to identify stuff. Proper modern camouflage systems, use of terrain and movement discipline still influence detection rates.

- Integrated Suppression of Enemy UAS ( borrowed principles of SEAD) work. Combination of EA, ES and kinetic effects to destroy the systems, support systems and operators.

- Denial of launch areas. Most of the Group 1 UAS have a limited max range around 10km. Aggressive patrolling during defensive operations to push En platforms outside their range bands.
 

Underway

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- Denial of launch areas. Most of the Group 1 UAS have a limited max range around 10km. Aggressive patrolling during defensive operations to push En platforms outside their range bands.
I agree, if you let a Group 1 UAS find your main effort you've screwed up. NATO UAS doctrine for Group 1 UAS seems to focus on "looking over the next hill" so you don't have to poke your head out.

This is also why I shake my head a bit in the Naval environment when people scream about drone swarms. 10km (or 5.3 nautical miles) is knife fight range for navies. That would mean the 57mm bofors would be in range shooting them their entire travel time from launch point to the ship.

Group 2 UAS are a problem, as they are cheap, their ranges are decent and they can carry useful sesors or ordinance (some loitering munitions are in this group).

However, Group 2 UAS also has the size to be engaged by traditional AAW defenses as they are basically the same size as anti-ship missiles.
 

Kirkhill

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Some miscellaneous thoughts on the problem having discussed this with various audiences and having some (limited) experience with UAS feeds.

- Defeat the operator not the system. UAS feeds still generally need a good operator/ analyst to identify stuff. Proper modern camouflage systems, use of terrain and movement discipline still influence detection rates.

- Integrated Suppression of Enemy UAS ( borrowed principles of SEAD) work. Combination of EA, ES and kinetic effects to destroy the systems, support systems and operators.

- Denial of launch areas. Most of the Group 1 UAS have a limited max range around 10km. Aggressive patrolling during defensive operations to push En platforms outside their range bands.

OTOH - all of that takes resources away from the main effort, no?

I'm particularly thinking of the need to vigorously patrol 10 km around every Defended Locality, FOB, FARP, convoy/packet and dispersed sub-unit.

I agree there are counters but this is one area where Quantity does indeed have a Quality all its own. Things are made harder.
 
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