It's no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) and unmanned systems have shot up the priorities list for many armed forces over recent years, in particular as a result of lessons learned from the Ukraine conflict.
This monthly newsletter will bring focus to a key area of technology in this fast-moving space. In this first issue, we'll take a look at unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and counter UAS systems and deliver a roundup of recent developments. According to the Research and Markets company, this is a sector that is set to reach $5.8 billion per annum by the year 2029.
Counter-drone systems quickly became a military, economic and political priority after Yemen's Houthi rebels and other Iran-backed groups stepped up a drone and missile campaign against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its oil infrastructure a few years ago, at one point, halving its oil production. The targeting of an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea by an Iranian drone in February further upped the ante.
Saudi Arabia was famously using Raytheon's MIM-114 Patriot surface-to-air missile system to target incoming Houthi drone attacks. However, as many have already noted, using $4 million missiles to shoot down homemade attack drones is neither an effective, nor a sustainable counter-drone strategy. Although, smaller alternatives were deployed including the MARRS Interceptor.
Drones remain a challenge for air defence systems, since they often fly under the radar, while most conventional radar systems are designed to detect high-altitude threats. This, now obvious, gap has given rise to a whole new industry segment, as national defence industries and a new generation of startups step in to create better counter-drone systems.
Raytheon's $237 million contract with the US Army to supply it's Ku-band Radio Frequency Sensors (KuRFS) and Coyote UAS as a counter drone solution, shows just how much the drone threat has changed requirements. A basic Coyote drone costs just $15,000.
by Carrington Malin