C4iSR: Air

DSEI 2017: Rheinmetall outlines approach to air defence against UAVs

21 September 2017

Rheinmetall Defence has outlined its approach to countering the oft-neglected threat from low-flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).High-energy lasers are one option to counter small, low-flying UAVs. (Rheinmetall Defence)High-energy lasers are one option to counter small, low-flying UAVs. (Rheinmetall Defence)

Speaking to Jane’s at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2017 defence exhibition, held in London from 11 to 15 September, Fabian Ochsner, the company’s vice-president of business development and marketing for air defence, cited as examples the UAVs being used to direct artillery fire in eastern Ukraine, as well as the commercial UAVs being weaponised by the Islamic State to conduct bombing missions in Iraq and Syria. Ochsner additionally noted that in Yemen, Houthi rebels have used UAVs to knock out the radar of Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries and engage the launchers in swarms, thereby threatening the overall air defence layer that the Patriot system provides.

Although no single system can counter the UAV threat, Ochsner says that guns combined with multiple detectors – including acoustic, electro-optic/infrared, micro-Doppler, radar, radio frequency, and visual sensors – can affordably be used to detect, track, and engage UAVs. This could protect vital assets, such as SAM batteries, without the need to employ more expensive missile systems against a relatively inexpensive threat. Rheinmetall Defence offers various 35 mm revolver and twin guns for this purpose, along with its AHEAD programmable airburst ammunition.

In the civilian sphere, Rheinmetall has also developed specific solutions to tackle UAVs, with Ochsner giving an example of how sensors within a system known as Radshield have been installed at a prison in Lenzburg, Switzerland, to provide warning against UAV activity. Similar solutions could also be provided at airports and public events, he noted.

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