Machine autonomy makes small unmanned aircraft more dangerous, as military eyes laser weapons defenses

Feb. 16, 2021
Strategy looks to an era when commercial drones will fill the skies over cities, and defenders must spot the ones that are acting strangely.

AUSTIN, Texas – As small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) become smarter, cheaper, more nimble, easier for rogue adversaries to acquire and more advanced adversaries to evolve, they pose a unique threat for the U.S. military that grows in importance as the small unmanned aircraft diminish in size. American Military News reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

16 Feb. 2021 -- This year, trends in autonomy will reshape small UAV capabilities and concepts, making them more offensively useful and even harder to defend against.

The U.S. military plans to spend $83 million this year to buy laser weapons, electromagnetic devices, and other means to take down small drones. By year’s end, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Preble will get a 60-kilowatt laser and an optical dazzler, while the Air Force will deploy a Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder, or THOR.

Jamming drones, or even blasting them out of the sky, might work fine over the strait of Hormuz or the desert sands of Syria, but it’s a tricker proposition in the cities where the military expects to fight. Just finding them is a big problem; small drones are often too small for radar, too cool for thermal sensors, and too soft for sound detectors.

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John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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