he U.S. Air Force recently zapped an Islamic State drone with an electronic weapon, according to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.
The service targeted a small, weaponized drone operated by militants “a week or two ago” because it was responsible for killing four non-U.S. citizens in the Middle East.
“We were informed there was one unmanned aerial system in the vicinity and fairly quickly we were able to bring it down through electronic measures,” James said at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C.
According to defensetech.org, the comments by the secretary, who spoke alongside Army Secretary Eric Fanning and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, highlight the military’s desire to address the growing challenge of targeting small but potentially lethal drones.
Electronic warfare is also a popular method being used in Eastern Ukraine. For months, Russian-backed separatists have been jamming signals to misdirect or take out commercial drones Ukrainian soldiers use to conduct aerial surveillance. The move, first observed in 2014, triggered U.S. troops to keep watch as it trained Ukrainian guardsmen on the western side of the country.
“It is good for us to be aware how they fight,” Evelyn Farkas, then-deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, said in an interview with Military Times last year. “We have not fought wars the way they do in kind of an urban, mixed urban and nonurban setting with UAVs, with electronic jamming.”
Earlier this month, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, responsible for directing US Army operations throughout the United States european command area of responsibility, said he wants anti-drone weapons to counter potential threats from Russia. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said he would welcome any number of systems to do the job, from newer non-kinetic technologies to older, Cold War-era equipment.
While he didn’t specify the name of any new products, Army officials have tested Battelle’s DroneDefender, a shoulder-fired weapon that disables drones with radio waves and when paired with an Israeli-made radar can detect unmanned aerial vehicles from several kilometers away.
“I know there’s a lot of work being done on non-kinetic means and I am confident that we are going to have some other systems coming down the road … but I need something now,” the general told reporters during AUSA. “We didn’t worry about [short-range air defense] over the last several years because there was not a threat,” he said. “Now you look at the UAVs, I need a counter-UAV capability.”