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C4iSR: Air

D13’s MESMER applies RF manipulation for C-UAS

22 January 2018

Department 13 (D13) is teaming with Raytheon to support its MESMER system, a counter unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) capability that can detect and stop or redirect a UAS.MESMER tunes into a threat UAV's radio signal and sends packets of information to command the platform to execute various commands. (Department 13)MESMER tunes into a threat UAV's radio signal and sends packets of information to command the platform to execute various commands. (Department 13)

MESMER uses radio frequency (RF) protocol manipulation to take advantage of the weaknesses in a system's digital radio signal to execute commands such as land, return home, or hover, without jamming the signal, Jonathan Hunter, CEO of D13, told Jane’s .

Although D13 is undertaking trials with the US Department of Defense (DoD), and has participated in its Black Dart counter-UAS exercises, the company is mainly focusing on commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at present, Hunter said.

“It allows us to focus in on those protocols that are widely used. Instead of chasing a thousand different signals and frequencies, we can just chase 12 different protocols,” he said.

MESMER works by consistently sensing the airspace around the target area and seeking signals of interest. When a unique signal is recognised, identified, and the UAV detected, MESMER extracts data such as the serial number of the platform and the relative received signal-strength indicator (a measurement of the power present in a received radio signal).

MESMER then cuts the link between the UAV and its controller and sends packets into the radio protocol, effectively taking control of the air vehicle, Hunter said.

“We transmit below 1 W, so we are not overpowering the controller of the [UAV], we are basically giving it information, orders, taskings,” Hunter said.

The low power only affects specific targeted radio-controlled devices and avoids nearby non-targeted communications signals. It does not interfere with GSM frequency bands used by mobile phones and mobile devices.

MESMER's range is below 5 km, so threat UAVs must be within line of sight.

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