US Military Academy Releases New Report On Fighting Kamikaze Drones; Suggests 3 Ways To Counter UAVs

Among many lessons emerging from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is the effectiveness of cheap drones in inflicting grave, often asymmetric, damage on highly sophisticated and expensive targets.

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This lesson, along with the efficacy of the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 by firing thousands of drones laden with explosives, is now forcing the anti-drone industry to develop new technologies to limit the effectiveness of drones on the battlefield.

The latest news on this development has come from Russia. It has deployed new artificial intelligence (AI)–powered anti-drone systems, Abzats and Gyurza, in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Abzats, a mobile jamming platform, utilizes AI algorithms to autonomously move and perform electronic warfare tasks, jamming the full spectrum of frequencies used by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Russia has also deployed Gyurza, another AI-powered anti-drone jammer. Gyurza’s AI reportedly can selectively jam frequencies used by Ukrainian drones and neutralize them.

According to Oleg Zhukov, CEO of the Russian research and production company Geran, the integration of AI into electronic warfare is proving its effectiveness in “automatically suppressing enemy drone systems upon detection while remaining dormant in their absence.”

For its part, Ukraine is also receiving counter-drone systems from the U.S., such as counter-drone gun trucks, laser-guided rocket systems, and “other c-UAS equipment.”

Ukraine has also recently received several CORTEX Typhon systems from Kongsberg, a Norwegian company. These systems use radar to detect drones and then fire missiles to shoot them down.

On its own, Ukraine has developed and deployed EW systems like the Brave1 against Russian cruise missiles.

It has another platform, the L3Harris Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment (VAMPIRE). This laser-guided missile launcher, installed in a truck bed, has been critical to countering Russian drone strikes in Kyiv and elsewhere. These missiles have been proven to be very effective against oncoming Iranian-produced Shahed drones that Russia uses.

Apparently, Israel has emerged as a notable player in the counter-drone sector, using the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Drone Dome and the Elbit Systems ReDrone. These systems can detect a drone through 3D radar, signal detection, or cameras and then emit jamming signals to disrupt its operation. In fact, these Israeli systems are now said to be used by a number of other countries to protect critical infrastructure from drone attacks and are generally considered fairly effective at neutralizing drones.

It’s no wonder the counter-drone market worldwide is growing rapidly. The global Anti-Drone Market was valued at $1.3 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $14.6 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 27.9% from 2022 to 2031.

The key players in this market are Lockheed Martin Corporation, Dedrone, Advanced Radar Technologies, Liteye Systems Inc., SAAB, Thales, Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Blighter Surveillance Systems Limited, DETECT, INC., and DroneShield. Based on end-use, the military and defense segment accounts for the largest share.

However, notwithstanding the growth and potential of the counter-drone market, the systems it develops are said to have some serious limitations.

The biggest challenge here happens to be the cost factor. Unlike drones, which are inexpensive and abundantly produced, the economics of countermeasures are said to be out of balance. The counter-drone industry is said to be spending millions of dollars to defeat a threat that costs about $500 apiece.

Besides, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackling drones. Each technology and method of countering drones has specific circumstances and targets for which it is the most useful system. That is why experts say that the counter-drone industry has not developed systems that are “generalizable, scalable, and applicable to a wide set of platforms.”

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According to Brett Velicovich, a former U.S. soldier and current CEO of Drone Experts, “There are literally over 200 different counter-drone technologies—everything from guns to spoofers to jammers, you name it. There are over 100 manufacturers making these things, but yet there’s not one solution that I could point to and say, ‘Yes, 100 percent that’ll stop a drone from coming in.’ And that’s kind of scary when you think about all the money and brainpower being put towards it.”

The point that emerges is that though there are many ways to bring down a drone, the real challenge is creating a system that is “affordable” and “effective” to deal with different types of situations—an “all-in-one system, a one-stop shop that is generalizable, scalable and applicable to a wide set of platforms.”

File Image: Drone FPV
File Image: Drone FPV

Different Ways Of Dealing With Drones

It may be noted here that there are four broad categories of systems to deal with drones: Tracking, Jamming, Kinetic, and Hybrid, Hijacking/Cyber approaches. Experts say that though there are many options available in the first three categories, not much progress has been made in the field of the fourth category of hybrid or hijacking category.

Broadly speaking, through tracking and jamming, which are non-kinetic systems, one can locate a drone and disrupt its flight capabilities by blocking or corrupting the signals crucial for control and navigation. These systems, thus, make the drone incapable of detecting its command signals and disrupt its pre-loaded flight plans.

Kinetic systems are those that fire projectiles, such as bullets or missiles, at a drone to destroy it. These systems are marked by powerful sensors such as radar to detect the drone and motorized platforms to aim and fire the weapon.

However, as pointed out above, these are not all-in-one systems, and their effectiveness will vary from location to location and situation to situation, particularly when one faces multiple drone attacks at once.

After all, drone technologies are also improving simultaneously and successfully probing vulnerabilities in sensors and radar coverage. The attacking drones have made advances in attack vector choice, GPS hardening, and other adaptations.

It is against this background that one is hearing these days the importance of building impenetrable “shelters” like bunkers against drone attacks.

A just-released report from the “Modern War Institute” at the United States Military Academy says how, between August 2023 and April 2024, “2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division” that was deployed across Iraq and Syria in support of “Operation Inherent Resolve” has learned an important set of lessons on countering and defending against rockets, missiles, and drones of all sizes from various militia groups.

“At the end of the day, there are three ways to defend against one-way attack drones: you can shoot them down, you can hit them with electronic interference, or you can seek shelter and absorb the hits,” the report said.

Despite all the expensive technology involved in defeating drone threats, the report highlighted some of the simplest and cheapest options—like sandbags and concrete—are still among the best protection measures.

Bunkers remain an essential component of static defenses. “The men and women of 2/10 can attest that as crude as they are, they work—as long as people were inside them”.

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According to the report, the combination of bunkers and radars was sometimes as important as concrete T-walls to 2/10 in the C-UAS fight. T-walls contain an unexpected blast from spreading and interfere with flight paths but offer no overhead coverage.

Overhead protection, including reinforced bunkers and pre-detonation roofing on select buildings, was extremely important as attacks became more precise and targeted toward high-occupancy areas and key command nodes.

Its conclusion was that “Overall, like any other battle plan, the counter–unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) operations are a multi-layered and multifaceted defense in depth. The best way to protect the force is through a combination of both active and passive defensive measures”.

In other words, a simple solution to meet the drone challenges does not appear feasible at the moment. As far as one can visualize, the world will witness the cat-and-mouse dynamics between drones and counter-drone technologies.

  • Author and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda is Chairman of the Editorial Board – EurAsian Times and has commented on politics, foreign policy, and strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. 
  • CONTACT: prakash.nanda (at)
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Prakash Nanda
Author and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda has been commenting on Indian politics, foreign policy on strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. He has been a Visiting Professor at Yonsei University (Seoul) and FMSH (Paris). He has also been the Chairman of the Governing Body of leading colleges of the Delhi University. Educated at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, he has undergone professional courses at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Boston) and Seoul National University (Seoul). Apart from writing many monographs and chapters for various books, he has authored books: Prime Minister Modi: Challenges Ahead; Rediscovering Asia: Evolution of India’s Look-East Policy; Rising India: Friends and Foes; Nuclearization of Divided Nations: Pakistan, Koreas and India; Vajpayee’s Foreign Policy: Daring the Irreversible. He has written over 3000 articles and columns in India’s national media and several international dailies and magazines. CONTACT: