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Drones vs. Tanks and AFVs.


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Armoured forces operating without AD in place are going to be in trouble. You need double the AD to allow movement. Half is set up to cover static defense and assaults, as the battlefield moves, the other half will have to leap frog and get into position, so the first half can disengage and move. So you might need 2 batteries of Long range AD, 4 for Medium and 8 for Short range AD. 

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1 hour ago, Colin said:

Armoured forces operating without AD in place are going to be in trouble. You need double the AD to allow movement. Half is set up to cover static defense and assaults, as the battlefield moves, the other half will have to leap frog and get into position, so the first half can disengage and move. So you might need 2 batteries of Long range AD, 4 for Medium and 8 for Short range AD. 

This is true, and it's pretty much been true since layered air defense missile systems first appeared.  I think what drones bring into play is sheer number and variety.

Fixed and rotary wing CAS/interdiction is based off a relatively small number of expensive assets (pilots even more than airframes): no one can afford a high attrition rates for long and it's entirely reasonable to spend a lot of money on a missile to kill just one aircraft.   Large, expensive drones have a similar dynamic, though they are much more economical with pilots.   

With drones, it's the ability to manufacture, and expend, a large number of low cost aerial vehicles that changes things.  The "old school" layered defense you are talking about is still required to deal with high end drones and manned aircraft, but cheap, ubiquitous drones are going to require cheap, ubiquitous air defense.

I would expect to see a wide variety of existing cannon-armed vehicles have fire control systems and ammunition load outs modified to put small drones into their target mix and, especially for "low and slow" drones, possibly a re-discovery of acoustic detection combined with some sort of automated visual search.  We might also see a shift to longer ranged, i.e., higher effective ceiling, automatic weapons in 40-76mm in place of the current crop of 25-30mm weapons.

 

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5 hours ago, Colin said:

Armoured forces operating without AD in place are going to be in trouble. You need double the AD to allow movement. Half is set up to cover static defense and assaults, as the battlefield moves, the other half will have to leap frog and get into position, so the first half can disengage and move. So you might need 2 batteries of Long range AD, 4 for Medium and 8 for Short range AD. 

Per what formation? 

Division? Even for a division this seems like plenty. And plenty means expensive AF.

A C2 vehicle can be fully functional while mobile.

The launchers alone can leap in turns, and the radars from the artillery units are the same anyway so they'll join the air defense mission.

So you really can have 1 battery being very mobile even if it's based on deployable tech.

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On at least one of the videos I've seen, the search radar on the SAM was on and spinning, but it didn't seem to react to the presence of the drone at all.

What can be retrofitted to existing vehicles (anti aircraft or not) to mitigate the threat?  It would need some reach because something close range will just cause them to shift from direct impact to standoff EFP.

MMW search + tracking radar + directional jammer + some sort of hard kill system, all on a bolt-on RWS mount?

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Radars have min target speed filter, otherwise they tend to pick things like cars and trains. They also have dead angle from the above (can be depending on the radar anything from 30deg and up) etc. Most also have max scan altitude, SA-6 search and guidance radar limits engagements to 7km high. Speed filters are not used by every radar, in particular those in shorter-ranged SAMs are supposed to be able to pick hovering helicopters. IIRC, Gepard, Tunguska, Giraffe and few more of that age can engage slow targets (most of the drones shot down during Allied Force were shot down by Bofors 40/70 using Giraffe radar control).

Problem, as always, using AD w/o having it unified in a layered network and having batteries mutually covering each other dead zones.

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There is the drones , but also the munitions, short ranged AD to protect the radars working as a mini iron dome?

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Your going to need proactive and reactive solutions, you can't be everywhere. Denying the EM space without effecting your own equipment would be optimal. It also has to be equipment that smaller armies can afford to buy and train/maintain.  

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8 hours ago, Simon Tan said:

Derivatsiya

Still no prox fused ammo for that one.

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Or a Bofors 57mm, with AHEAD munition, adapted for land use, in the style of the Italian Otomatic. Problem is, a round of ammo could be more expensive than a drone...

Edited by sunday
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49 minutes ago, sunday said:

Problem is, a round of ammo could be more expensive than a drone...

It is a value of the target for that drone that counts.

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r a Bofors 57mm, with AHEAD munition, adapted for land use, in the style of the Italian Otomatic.

You really need proxy fused since it allows for a larger error than with AHEAD.


Combination of prox fused 40mm and missile for a longer ranges would work well, major problems with drones is detecting them, not engaging them.

Edited by bojan
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On 10/28/2020 at 1:35 PM, bojan said:

It is a value of the target for that drone that counts.

(...)

True indeed, but that way lies long term attrition.

Also, on the thread about naval games between Greeks and Turks, there was a pic of a Turk frigate with this interesting CIWS. Sea Zenith is able to engage targets on top of the system, could be a cheaper alternative to a 57mm system.

 

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Drones hunting other drones, with small explosive payload.

Fragmenting airburst munitions go 3,000.- USD+ per pop and you need a suitable platform with guidance system.

High energy lasers may be a somewhat attractive option, but I think the tech isn't quite there yet, and what do you do in rain or even light fog (and there's practically always light fog, except in deserts).

I've heard of 40mm AGLs with semi-active radar fuzes, which sounds like a brilliant idea except that, again, the fuze is what makes the round expensive, and the hit rate is not very promising from what I heard, so it's not even the cost per round but the cost per engagement (and the UXO issue).

Drones are difficult to engage because

  • small (which requires either short flight time, or an area saturation approach by firing a pattern)
  • less predictable flight path
  • radar signal surprisingly similar to that of a bird (so it's a massive ham/spam problem)
  • surprisingly resilient to damage (unless you happen to hit the battery pack), typically more than one hits per UAV are needed to down it

This rules out non-fragmenting rounds (think of five-digit figures of rounds 7.62mm per successful drone engagement), not the least because they all come down somewhere. Radar guidance is still a largely unsolved problem. EW only works so far (e.g. microwave guns) because drones can be hardened against that comparatively easily. Airburst munitions are horridly expensive. Therefore, hunting drones are the most promising approach at least for the near future.

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Radar and EO detection. The drones are also optical guided, so you can see them when they can see you. With todays processing power you can have the radar turn the EO sensor on all probable targets and image recognition software would decided if it is a bird or drone.

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I think the price of airburst munitions can be bought down a lot, if there is a big push for them.

Drones capable of air to air engagement vs other drones using cheap munitions may also be possible.

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There are some significant developments coming in terms of improved fragments, trading penetration for after-impact effects. This is from 2002, so it's possible that the US has fielded something.

ETA. Obviously, this is applicable to both the launching platform and the munitions, but should improve individual fragment effectiveness which effectively increases the volume of effect of a fragmentation AA round, eventually improving the capability of smaller calibre AAA.

The other options are to attack the datalink, if there is one, or the on-board electronics via EW, saturating or damaging an optical seeker or destroying the designator/launch platform. For only one of these does a SAM make much sense. Lasers will have their place for damaging optics at all levels, but destroying targets requires a significant vehicle just now, and would be vulnerable to a saturation attack by cheap munitions.

I'd be interested to know the unit cost of MAM-L and MAM-C.

Edited by DB
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The system(s), whether soft or hard kill, will need to be able to engage a white variety of targets. On the battlefields of Nagorno Karabach we have not only seen the TB2s that drop carried munitions, but also a large variety of suicide drones / loitering munitions:

Azeri Targu loitering munitions (from Turkey), small and slow.

7j1eBuD.jpg

 

Elbit Skystriker as seen in a picture from yesterday: larger, quicker, long range and able to perform pop-up attacks.

Y1PIpZI.jpg

And the infamous IAI Harop:

aLd6Olj.jpg

 

And then the surveillance drones that stay at a distance and perform a forward observer's role:

 

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22 hours ago, bojan said:

IIRC 50k per round for smaller one, ~75k per larger.

Radio proximity fuzes cost 1000 times less. Or are you referring to something else?

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