In September 2015 ThalesRaytheonSystems began development of an algorithm-based approach to countering unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Barely nine months later it has unveiled a working model of the system – dubbed Smart Sensor Grid (SSG) – at Eurosatory 2016 in Paris this week.
Thierry Bon, New Concepts and New Product Development Manager at TRS, explains that the primary objective of SSG “is to improve situational awareness and threat assessment” in security and/or event management scenarios in which UAS may present a clear and present danger.
Taking full advantage of the data fusion and analysis capabilities it has developed for the NATO Air Command & Control Systems (ACCS), TRS has brought similar capabilities to what may be termed a lower level of command and control, but one in which exactly the same speed of data fusion and processing can be leveraged to significant advantage.
Merging data from a wide variety of sensors – from aerostat and airborne sensors to city street CCTV cameras, depending on the application – SSG provides regional, local and incident commanders not only with a fixed, clear and common air picture but also with a level of granularity that will empower faster and better informed decision making.
Identifying, locating and tracking UAS in an area of sensitive interest, according to Bon, is only the start of the capabilities SSG. “Maintaining the continuum of detection and adding a predictive tracking capability so that operators can develop defensive options is key to the way in which we are developing Smart Sensor Grid,” he says.
The ability to overlay an integrated surveillance and data fusion architecture on the existing infrastructure of a city, military position or critical transport hub provides potential users with literally incalculable advantages, according to Bon. Although the product is in the early stages of development currently, the French Ministry of Defence has “already understood the potential benefits and expressed considerable interest,” he says.
Around Eurosatory this week there will be dozens of C-UAS solutions on offer – it is one of the “in vogue” issues at the show. They will vary from providing kinetic effect to offering sophisticated datalink or guidance system jamming and disruption. It is unlikely, in this reporter’s view, that very many of them will have the same algorithm and mathematical model based approach to locating and providing interdiction data for hostile UAS as TRS’ Smart Sensor Grid. It has a way to go and there will undoubtedly be a lot of work put into linking the system with weapons and effectors designed to destroy or nullify the target vehicle. But it represents an encouraging – perhaps even far-sighted – start to offering a realistic and holistic C-UAS capability.