Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Russian Attacks On UAVs

Here’s some confirmation of one of the themes that I continually harp on.  The Russians are disrupting UAVs via electronic countermeasures.  C4ISR Net website reports,

In one of the more startling displays of Russia’s capabilities, they have disrupted the unmanned aerial vehicles tasked by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to chart the conflict.”

These UAS [UAVs] were disrupted via surface-to-air missiles and military-grade electronic jamming, …”

Live fire and GPS jamming were the two main factors for the loss of the drones.” (1)

What have we harped on?  -that UAVs are not survivable and subject to jamming.  Here is Russia showing us exactly that action and outcome.

True, these are not US UAVs and there are undoubtedly those who will blindly and naively claim, with no supporting evidence, that US UAVs are superior and will be immune to disruption but the evidence is clear that UAVs are just target practice and those that are not casually destroyed will be rendered ineffective due to electronic countermeasures.

We need to devote some serious effort to hardening the UAV communications (including GPS).  We also need to give some serious thought to rethinking our doctrinal and tactical use of UAVs relative to the threats they’ll face.



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(1)C4ISR Net website, “Threat From Russian UAV Jamming Real, Officials Say”, Mark Pomerleau, 20-Dec-2016,


5 comments:

  1. i can't see a solution to jamming (GPS and UAV control by radio waves) , except a narrow beam (line of sight only) laser controlling swarms of UAV with direct line of sight of a central controller UAV as relay (as many relay possible to breach the jamming zone).

    a high flying UAV relay controller with LOS lasers controlling smaller UAV might be good as option to disregard the RF jamming. Though the relay itself will be 'bright' and easily detectable using IR / Thermal and susceptible for take down using SAM.

    In short , for UAV control to be tough and unjammable , one have to make a swarm of 'relay UAV' that can 'talk' with other 'relay UAV' and back up each other relay. And the rest of the operating UAV can depend of these relay UAVs..

    OR

    use advanced AI that's good enough to control UAV/UCAV that do not depend on external stimuli.

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  2. "In short , for UAV control to be tough and unjammable , one have to make a swarm of 'relay UAV' that can 'talk' with other 'relay UAV' and back up each other relay. And the rest of the operating UAV can depend of these relay UAVs.."

    And then, if you infect one, or pirate its signal....

    "use advanced AI that's good enough to control UAV/UCAV that do not depend on external stimuli."

    I'm guessing you mean external control? And again, I'm not a huge fan. Task driven weapons 'Hey missile, go get this ship, or any one of this number of ships, in this area matching this description' are one thing. Fully autonomous devices 'Go kill things' I'm not comfortable with until we understand *alot* more about the implications.

    My guess is that if full on peer level combat is joined, you're going to see alot of the more delicate cyber systems die quickly under old fashioned jamming and artillery attacking its weak points. And I think you're going to find alot of the cyber systems we have are more delicate than we think.

    From what I've read in the cold war we would go after communication nodes, and expect the Soviets to do the same. It seems like they've still kept that mindset and we've lapsed into the idea that the we'll have the same dominance that we've had during the insurgencies.

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  3. Sounds like its time to add radar warning recievers and chaff dispensers to our UAV's.

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    Replies
    1. No. While your suggestion might seem reasonable on the face of it, so would adding larger engines for greater speed, more stealth, 360 deg IR sensors, sensor fusing for better situational awareness, stronger airframe structure to allow higher-g maneuvering, and maybe some air to air weapons for self defense. Well guess what, that's an F-35!

      The concept of UAVs is that they're low cost, expendable platforms. Every capability we add increases the cost and negates the benefits of UAVs.

      While you, personally, might hold the add-ons to just RWR and chaff, the next guy might think some other capability or package of capabilities are worthwhile. By the time the design committee is done, we've got a $200M F-35-ish UAV. That's how the LCS came to be - everyone just adding anything they could think of.

      Also, every piece of equipment adds weight which reduces endurance and range, again negating the benefits of UAVs.

      There's actually another, better option. Think about it a bit. What would you do if you thought you needed the capability the UAV offers but needed to ensure their survival? Let me know what you come up with.

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  4. Looking back to the OSCE for original reports of the attcks on the UAVs, Ive found this
    http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/256371
    Which reports an assault rifle heard when it goes down and again later they heard a pistol....
    And this one which was lost in the area close to where a 9K35 Strela-10, 120mm was observed.
    http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/243361

    is it really surprising that soldiers will fire at UAVs when they see them, from pistols upwards?

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