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The Army Is Preparing To Field This Electromagnetic Rifle Against ISIS Drones
With the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by ISIS militants on the rise in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon has been aggressively exploring new strategies for dealing with weaponized drones, from hand-held jamming systems to vehicle-borne laser countermeasures. Now, troops downrange are about to add another weapon to their arsenal.
U.S. Army combat troops have been training with the “DroneDefender,” a directed-energy rifle that manufacturer Battelle bills as a “non-kinetic solution” to the rise of drone warfare — that is, a solution that lets troops blow drones out of the sky without firing a shot.
The DroneDefender deploys an electromagnetic signal to disable communication between an airborne drone and its operator, jamming GPS signals and ISM radio frequencies, a standard feature of most counter-drone technologies examined by the Department of Defense.
But in contrast to other handheld weapons like the Block 3 “Dronebuster” the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force recently purchased, the DroneDefender doesn’t necessarily cause a drone to crash, but can “force them to land or hover,” minimizing collateral damage from an airborne IED, notes Army Recognition.
In Mary 2016, the departments of Defense and Homeland Security both authorized the purchase of 100 military-grade versions of the DroneDefender for use domestically and downrange overseas, DefenseTech reported at the time.
29 ID Soldiers trained with DroneDefender, a point-and-shoot, electromagnetic, rifle-shaped weapon that disrupts communications between a remote-controlled drone and its operator. While the U.S. military works on a range of options to counter drone technology, the system provides a safer and more accurate alternative than other methods, such as shooting drones with a rifle.Photo via DoD
But the purchase was dogged by concerns that Battelle had overhyped the weapon’s ability to “take command” of an enemy unmanned aerial vehicle, per Fortune:
Though a Battelle spokesperson told Defense Tech that drones respond to interference by landing, that's not uniformly true. Some drones, robbed of GPS or commands, will simply hover until their batteries run out. That’s often between ten and twenty minutes even for small commercial models, which is a long time for a guard to aim a radio beam.
Though Battelle says DroneDefender has been "successfully tested," the organization makes no explicit claims that it can take active control of a drone. That would be an extremely tall order, given the diversity of drones and control schemes out there. Further, while even high-end drones currently have weak control encryption, the very appearance of tools like the DroneDefender is sure to trigger higher standards.
Despite these concerns, the Pentagon seems convinced that the DroneDefender is ready for combat. Army Recognition and IHS Jane’s 360 report that troops from the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, showcased the DroneDefender at a counter-drone tech demonstration at Camp Buehring in Udari, Kuwait on April 6th.
"Task Force Spartan personnel took action to counter the threat by familiarizing themselves with a counter-drone technology using inexpensive, airborne, commercially available drones at Camp Buehring," Army officials wrote in a report on the exercise Tuesday, per Jane’s.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
Toxic Chemicals Poisoned The Drinking Water At Military Bases. Now Congress Is Doing Something About It
Hoping to push for clean-up and to hold polluters accountable, members of Congress created a task force Wednesday to help constituents nationwide who have contended with drinking water contaminated by chemicals used on military bases.
A congressionally mandated commission is weighing whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service System, or whether the U.S. needs a draft registration system at all.
Confessions Of An Apache Pilot: What It's Like To Fly The Military's Most Heavily Armed Attack Helicopter
Welcome to Confessions Of, an occaisional series where Task & Purpose's James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, billet, or a tour overseas. Are you in an interesting assignment and think you might have something to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your story.
"Nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."
While this Patrick Stewart quote may be from an R-rated movie about a talking teddy bear, it's remarkably accurate. After all, the old warhorse has been kicking ass since it was first adopted by the U.S. Army in the 1980s. Designed to get into trouble fast and put it down even faster, the AH-64 Apache usually comes bristling with ordnance, from an M230 chain gun firing 30mm rounds to Hellfire missiles and rockets.
In the words of Tyler Merritt "it's basically a fucking flying tank."