A CUAS detects and intercepts hostile drones and unmanned aerial systems, which can be used for intelligence gathering or smuggling contraband, or to deploy explosives
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Post the weaponised drone attack on the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Jammu on June 27 where two low-intensity improvised explosive devices,dropped from drones, exploded close to the helicopters hangar and left two IAF personnel injured, an anti-drone system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has now been deployed at the IAF Jammu station. News reports of July 5, 2021 now reveal that the IAF is looking to purchase quantity 10 x Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (CUAS), commonly called anti-drone systems, from Indian vendors.
There are two main aspects to an anti-drone system; detection of a rogue drone, and its destruction with weapon system, or jamming its communication signals. The detection takes place via radars, or/and radio frequency sensors and EO/IR systems. Modern anti-drone radar system may use multiple radar technologies depending on the range required, size of the zone to be protected, and number of simultaneous targets.
A CUAS detects and intercepts hostile drones and unmanned aerial systems, which can be used for intelligence gathering or smuggling contraband, or to deploy explosives. The CUAS are deployed to protect military bases, airports, critical infrastructure and other important sites.To destroy a hostile drone, a CUAS can include jammers and be armed with different weapon systems. For the latter, anti-drone systems could use guns or missiles along with a targeting system to destroy a drone. Similarly, a high-powered laser or microwave could also destroy a rogue drone.
The systems IAF seek are intended to detect, track, identify, designate and neutralise hostile drones
The IAF has issued a Request for Information (RFI) on June 28, 2021, to invite bids. According to media quoting defence sources, the procurement and the RFI for CUASs has been in works for the last several months. The acceleration has obviously been provided by the June 27 drone attack in Jammu which apparently has also woken up the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The systems IAF seek are intended to detect, track, identify, designate and neutralise hostile drones; a Laser Directed Energy Weapon (Laser-DEW) is essentially required as a kill option.
Highlights of the RFI for the CUAS issued by the IAF include the following:
The overall requirement for CUAS would be huge considering that the IAF operates some 60 air stations across the country and the drone threat can emanate from anywhere in the hinterland
Soft kill refers to jamming the communication or navigation signals used by a drone. Hard kill refers to its physical destruction. Generation of a composite air situational picture for the operator and providing alerts implies inputs from different sensors will be consolidated on a single screen to enable a composite understanding of the situation for the controlling agency and the commander, explained sources.
Why the IAF has issued the RFI for only 10 X CUAS is not known but possibly it is to cover the bases in proximity of the borders with Pakistan and China taking into accounts the ranges of armed drones available to the adversaries. Alternatively, the requirement may have been prioritised for lack of funds since the overall requirement would be huge; considering that the IAF operates some 60 air stations across the country in its seven Air Commands and the drone threat can emanate from anywhere in the hinterland as well.
Moreover, the IAF would require large number of hand-held counter drone guns as well. It may be recalled that in December 2020, the Indian Navy placed an order for an unspecified number of Israeli anti-drone system Smash 2000 Plus, which turns assault rifles into smart weapons for anti-drone operations enabling first-shot hits. The Directorate of Military Affairs (DMA) headed by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the MoD needs to coordinate the overall requirements of the three services to counter drones.