Anti Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Warfare and Its Strategic Implications


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Fatih Ceylan | Ambassador (Retired) and EDAM Non Resident Fellow

There have of late been a flurry of articles on progress being achieved in designing and producing anti Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Systems assets by a high number of firms around the globe. This is understandable because of the frequent employment of UAVs/Ss with success in different conflict zones. It looks evident that the trend to explore and improve technologies of anti UAVs/Ss will continue unabated.

UAV/S started to take the stage, albeit in primitive forms, in the mid- 19th. century. Since then there has been an unprecedented evolution both in their employment and technology. Efforts to develop their capabilities and designs gained some traction in the late 1970s and various systems have been put into use, particularly in the military field. What we today witness is an ever increasing use of different types of UAVs/Ss both in military and civil domains. And it has become evident that their employment will increase greatly in the foreseeable future.

It is undeniable that successful employments of different types of UAVs/Ss, or Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircrafts (RPA) to use a commonly referred term in military circles,have made these platforms much more attractive for many military and defence experts.

There exist primarily three classes of UAVs/Ss in use; micro, mini(miniature) and small UAVs/Ss (Class I in NATO jargon); medium-sized tactical systems(Class II), and Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) / High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) type UAVs/Ss (ClassIII) that could be described as strategic level types.There also exist Ultra High Altitude UAVs/Ss, still in experimental stages, which could be defined as sub-orbital satellites or high altitude pseudo-satellites using either solar energy or traditional types of fuel.

UAVs/Ss have become extremely useful platforms both in the civil and military domains. They are used for protection/defence of High Value Assets (HVA) such as airports, seaports, military bases, maritime and aerial assets, deployed troops and non-expendable military assets and capabilities. They also contribute to having a more accurate Recognised Air Picture (RAP) to enhance air superiority in different theatres both in peacetime and wartime. They are also effective instruments in conducting Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance efforts, mounting counterterrorism operations and surgical strikes against adversary’s military capabilities in the military field as well as in delivery of goods, postal services, covering large scale media events etc. in the civil sector.

They are also used for sinister purposes by state and non-state actors against military assets and capabilities in different theatres of war, for espionage, including the industrial field, sabotage and disruptive activities in an ever expanding spectrum. Hence the clear need to develop a new generation of anti UAV/S technologies and counter measures against the potential damage they could inflict on civil and military sectors.

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