As the global drone arms race continues to expand, so do the counter measures.
The proliferation of commercial drones, in particular, is expected to present new challenges to an increasingly crowded sky. Among commercial and military drones is the potential for swarms of micro-drones that can be hidden in plain sight … at least to the naked eye. However, drones are never hidden from the electromagnetic spectrum.
A UK defense firm announced that it is working on a comprehensive defense shield that aims to “control the electromagnetic spectrum” – electronic warfare. It will not only identify drones that are a threat either to populations or critical infrastructure such as nuclear facilities, military installations, and seats of government, but also will have the ability to hijack the aircraft and remove it from the area.
Selex ES is calling its system Falcon Shield, highlighted in a recent press release:
Easy to make, cheap to buy, simple to fly and hard to detect, commercially available drones are one of the most quickly evolving technological threats to both military and civilian environments. In response to this threat, Finmeccanica – Selex ES has introduced Falcon Shield, which can provide users with a rapidly deployable, scalable and modular system to detect, disrupt, deny and defeat the potential threat.
As is the case with nearly all press releases of this type, the bulk of it reads as a sales pitch to its potential military customers, obviously touting its many technical solutions-based elements. However, it does indicate the general direction of drone warfare.
As nation after nation becomes wired for war and neutralizes then surpasses each other, new methods must be developed to maintain military supremacy. This is the nature of military conflict and one of the prime reasons why the world seems to have new security threats each and every day. It becomes one endless problem-reaction-solution loop that only serves to benefit those who are invested in each of the three components.
At the same time this “solution” is presented – which really only elevates all threats to a new level – a counter measure is already in development. The latest cloaking technology is expected to render drones completely invisible – not only to the naked eye, but also in the electromagnetic spectrum:
By scattering the electromagnetic radiation – in the visible, infrared or radar spectrum, such metamaterial will be able to render a coated object undetectable in these wave frequencies, by forcing light or radar waves to bypass the object surface through the coating, which effectively “cloaks” the object.
A German company, Rheinmetall Defense Electronics, is also developing an anti-drone system that involves four mounted lasers which are intended to be operated as a sea-based defense apparatus that eliminates targets at the speed of light. It is lovingly referred to by the company as “HEL on wheels” – High Energy Laser. The sky should get interesting as earlier this week I wrote about an announcement from General Atomics that they were no more than two years from attaching laser systems TO their drones.
See both videos below to get an idea of what the future of war might look like.