Israeli defence and technology company Rafael has demonstrated its laser counter-drone system, achieving 100 per cent success in a series of test scenarios featuring multiple and manoeuvring small drones.
Rafael said their Drone Dome Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) successfully demonstrated its hard-kill laser system after detecting and identifying a series of small distant targets.
Those targets appear to have been readily available Chinese-made DJI Phantom drones.
The entire system was mounted on the back of a Land Rover and controlled by a single operator.
Rafael says Drone Dome is an innovative end-to-end C-UAS solution for securing air space from hostile drones.
“Fully operational and deployed globally, Drone Dome offers a modular and robust infrastructure, comprised of electronic jammers and sensors, allowing effective detection, full identification and neutralization of multiple Micro and Mini UAV threats employing its unique algorithms,” Rafael says.
Drone Dome was first fielded in 2016, using radar, optical and radio signal detection sensors and a capability to down drones electronically by jamming their control signals.
Many other C-UAS systems use similar electronic countermeasures systems.
However, a viable and practical hard kill capability has proved more challenging – gun and missile systems, nets, interceptor UAVs and even trained hawks have all been tried.
Rafael has been working on a laser system for some time. The technical challenge is to maintain target lock long enough for the laser to cause harm at ranges out beyond three kilometres.
Popular Mechanics said once the operator locked onto a drone, it’s practically over.
“The autotracker appears sophisticated enough to handle evasive manoeuvring, keeping the drone in its sights even as the little quadcopter bounces around in all directions. The laser engages, causing structural failure as it melts away the plastic housing and causing the drone’s electronics to fail,” it said.
Rafael’s video shows seven trashed Phantoms, all showing charring and some with arms burned off.
“One of Drone Dome’s unique capabilities is integrating laser technology for hard-kill capabilities,” Rafael says.
“When the C4I performs a positive identification, the system allocates the target to the laser effector, which locks and tracks the target and performs hard-kill.”
Rafael said Drone Dome was designed to address threats posed by hostile drones at both military and civilian sites.
That could include deployed forces and military facilities, critical border protection and civilian targets such as airports, or any location that might be vulnerable to the increasing threat of both terror and criminal drones.