Air Defense: DRAKE Goes To Sea

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October 19, 2021: The U.S. Navy has long sought a solution to the threat UAVs, especially the small (usually quadcopter) UAVs, ships operating near a coast are threatened with. Recently the navy decided to equip all its surface warships with a proven antidote to these commercial UAVs and is installing DRAKE (Drone Restricted Access Using Known Electromagnetic Warfare) systems on all these ships. DRAKE has been used successfully by ground forces in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan since it was introduced in 2017. The ground troops mounted DRAKE in a hummer and could disable navigation systems in most commercial quadcopters that got within a few hundred meters of DRAKE. This type of electronic signal identification and jamming is common with many similar systems. The larger systems have a range of 4,000 meters or more. DRAKE is deliberately lightweight, weighing nine kg (20 pounds) and can be carried by ground troops operating on foot. Surface ships will have several DRAKE units and one can be always kept active when the ship is in a port where there is risk. DRAKE is part of a growing array of non-lethal gear ships have received since the late 1990s to deal with Islamic terrorist or espionage threats encountered in some ports.

At sea, DRAKE would only be used if a quadcopter gets too close, especially one that appears to be conducting surveillance for nearby hostile forces who want to use the quadcopter to identify the best location on the ship to fire rockets or small guided missiles at.

The quadcopter signal detecting system has already been used in security or weapon systems designed to detect and locate an incoming quadcopter so that it can be shot down or simply have its operator signal disabled. Iran and Islamic terrorists have been using larger commercial quadcopters carrying explosives for attacks against targets, including a 2021 Iranian attack on a foreign commercial ship near the Iranian coast that left two crew dead.

Over the last decade there has been growing demand for Anti-UAV Defense Systems (AUDS). These systems consist of multiple sensors (visual, heat, radar) to detect the small UAVs and a focused radio signal jammer to cut the UAV off from its controller and prevent (in most cases) the UAV from completing its mission. The detection range of AUDS is usually 10 kilometers or more and the jamming range varies from a few kilometers to about eight. Smaller AUDS like DRAKE merely detect and jam quadcopter control signals at close range.

 


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