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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

16 June 2015

Paris Air Show 2015: Thales C-UAV solutions

Characterised by a high degree of autonomy and low visible, thermal, acoustic and electromagnetic signatures, small UAS are proliferating around the globe. Thales has developed a global protection approach aimed at countering the emerging threat of these systems. The company’s intricate knowledge of UAS and their mission systems appears to cut both ways as it has helped Thales to develop effective countermeasures against these same systems. Encompassing the whole killchain from detection to neutralisation, the company now has on offer an impressive array of technology for the purpose of C-UAS. Capitalising on the company’s existing range of sensors, C2 systems and effectors, this includes COMINT sensors, jamming systems, active radars and passive sensors together with hardkill systems such as laser and other weapon systems.

ANGELAS Research Project

Due to its UAS/C-UAS expertise Thales was selected in April to participate in the 18 month ANGELAS project, this being a French acronym for what translates into English as “global analysis and evaluation of technologies and methods for combatting UAS.” Led by the French research institute ONERA, ANGELAS was of course triggered by the overflights of French nuclear plants which commenced in October. Since, a total of 89 unauthorised flights are said to have been recorded across France. Hence, one of the stakeholders in the project is French energy company EDF together with a committee of end users that includes the Gendarmerie, Air Force and Navy. Falling in the framework of critical infrastructure protection, ANGELAS aims to achieve a greater expertise in the handling of the flight dynamics, system aspects and signatures of UAS while also improving the technologies needed to counter these systems whether they be existing or new. By studying the complementarity of the various systems, ANGELAS should enhance the range of avoidance and neutralisation solutions with on site experiments complementing the research that is currently being done.

Speaking to MT prior to PAS15, Jean Michel Negret, C4ISR marketing manager at Thales, made clear, “there is no single silver bullet when it comes to C-UAS.” As a result, the ANGELAS architecture encompasses multiple sensors including Thales’ SQUIRE radar, passive radar, ground based COMINT/DF and Thales’ airborne DF which is based on the Infotron IT180 VTOL UAS. ONERA takes care of acoustics while others supply IR cameras and 3D laser scanners. Another French company, Exavision has been selected to bring in its short range FMCW radar technology. Thales also has a big share in ANGELAS’ C2 arrangements supplying its Clearland C2 technology and an events correlation engine. Neutralization is performed through GPS spoofing (Thales), selective jamming (Thales), dazzling laser (Thales) or an interception UAV.

Military Base Protection Solution

Other applications of Thales’ C-UAS technology could be large events security or military air defence. For the latter purpose, Thales now proposes various systems that together could provide an immediate, comprehensive solution aimed at filling most or all of the current C-UAS capability gaps, hereby complementing or upgrading existing systems. A typical set of detection means would include the Groundmaster 200 (GM200) radar for very low altitude detection, the new Squire or GO12 (Ground Observer 12) ground surveillance radar, acoustic sensors, passive coherent locators and passive electronic trackers. While the latter scan and detect RF emissions of UAV datalinks or remote control at long range, the passive coherent locators look for reflected RF emissions of TV and radios antennas bouncing of aerial objects. Thales has been working on this technology since 1994 and has been building a small number of prototypes since 2005. The resulting data would typically be checked against a UAV profile database with the set of detectors being integrated into the overarching GBAD architecture. Thales then proposes data fusion to merge the various sensors’ data into a common air picture. Used for tracking and surveillance, short range electro-optics are also on offer together with a selection of effectors. Depending on a number of criteria such as cost, effectiveness, one can opt for the RAPIDDefender (VT1 missiles), RAPIDFire (40mm, optional STARSTREAK), RAPIDFlash (laser) or less drastic measures such as a sniper rifle. Other options would be the use of an energy pulse, jamming, spoofing or own UAVs.
Pieter Bastiaans

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