Air Platforms

Russian REX-1 counter-UAV system breaks cover on exercise

14 September 2018

ZALA Aero Group’s REX-1 anti-UAV weapon on trial on Exercise ‘Vostok 18’. Source: Russian MoD

Images from Russia’s major ‘Vostok 2018’ exercise on 13 September appear to show a production version of the REX-1 counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) weapon in use by Russian Federation airborne troops.

The REX-1 is a rifle-like, man-portable jammer developed by Kalashnikov Group subsidiary ZALA Aero Group and first seen at a Russian defence exhibition in 2017. It does not appear to have a kinetic kill mechanism, relying on the jammer’s ability to cut the UAV off from its operator, communications bearer, and autonomous navigation capability to neutralise the threat.

Specifications data indicate that it operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz ranges, which are commonly associated with wireless and mobile telephone operations, as well as global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as BeiDou, Galileo, GLONASS and GPS.

Suppression of GNSS signals can be made up to a 2 km radius around the system, with other communications blocked over a 30⁰ front arc out to 500 m. That 2 km navigation-jamming range would make it difficult for the UAV to fall back on an automated recovery mode attempting to fly out of the jamming beam.

ZALA Aero also stated that the system includes laser and stroboscope modules, presumably enabling an operator to dazzle and neutralise electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors in addition to blocking a UAV’s GNSS and communications capabilities. This combined jam and blinding capability could also give the weapon a secondary role against other GPS- and EO-reliant platforms.

Battery and power figures claim three hours of continuous life and 36 months on standby before needing a recharge.

At a reported 4.5 kg in weight, with rifle-like dimensions and a stock based on the MP-514K air rifle, it appears to be simple to use, offering mobile and light forces a new ability to counter proliferating UAVs, which can be hard to engage with more conventional firearms.

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