Air Defense: A Killer Quadcopter

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October 1, 2020: As the result of a joint American-Israeli effort, an Israeli firm has created a new quad-copter optimized to take down enemy quad-copters and small fixed-wing UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). Called Skylord, it has been tested for over a year in southern Israel (Gaza) to bring down the kites and helium balloons and Hamas has been using from Gaza to transport incendiaries or small explosives into southern Israel. Skylord has brought down 2,500 of these devices so far.

Skylord is a quadcopter with an AR (Augmented Reality) operator control system based on FPS (First Person Shooter) handheld controller used in many commercial video games. After launching Skylord, an operator puts on the AR headset that gives him a view from the UAV. The operator can then home in on the enemy UAV and use a long flexible and detachable “tail” carried under Skylord until the tail makes contact with the enemy UAV rotors or propeller and brings it down. The tail automatically detaches from Skylord when it snags another UAV. The guidance system includes the ability to put the cross hairs on another UAV than switch to “automatic intercept” mode which keeps after the target until it is close enough for the operator to bring the other UAV down, or just take high res pictures of it.

Skylord can carry devices weighing up to one kilogram (2.2 pound) and this can include electronic devices that will jam GPS and most UAV control signals. A net can also be used or anything else developers can come up with. In Gaza Skylord carried a tail that just punctured balloons to bring down the incendiary/explosives carrying devices used by Hamas.

Skylord is fast, moving at up to 80 meters a second, enabling it quickly close in on and bring down the target UAV. Skylord can then automatically return to the operator to be equipped with a new tail device and sent back into the air in less than ten seconds. An advanced (heavier) version of Skylord is being tested by American troops. Skylord is meant to be constantly upgraded, especially when it comes to devices that will bring down an enemy UAV.

Israeli firms have already been developing a number of ground-based devices to bring down the Hamas balloons. For example, Light Blade is an air defense weapon designed to detect and shoot down balloons. These Hamas devices cause more psychological than physical damage but the Israelis threatened are voters, and the devices do cause casualties or, more often, property damage and brush fires. The thousands of rocket, mortar and now kite and balloon attacks from Gaza over the last fifteen years have created a demand for specialized weapons to deal with the menace.

Light Blade works because of another new techy; SupervisIR. This is a radar that can detect small, slow-moving, low altitude targets and pass that data on to a weapons system. When combined with Light Blade, over 90 percent of available targets were detected, tracked and destroyed by the Light Blade variable focus laser. The ability of the Light Blade laser to focus into a powerful enough beam to bring down the balloons or kites was an important breakthrough. It means the laser beam is “eye safe” if it hits anyone in a passing aircraft. The beam focuses only long enough to burn through the balloons or kites and bring them down. Light Blade can hit targets within five kilometers of the truck (pickup or hummer type) mounted laser and fire control system.

 


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