Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Singapore's ST Engineering unveils new Counter Unmanned Aerial System weapon system

Take note of this new remote-controlled weapon system as you may well see it at an air base near you. It's a new Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) designed and made in Singapore by Singapore Technologies Engineering.

The C-UAS, which has yet to be named, was shown for the first time at this month's Singapore Airshow 2020. It was developed as an in-house project to provide law enforcement agencies and armed forces units with the capability to detect and engage drones out to 1,400m away. Starting from a clean sheet, the design team took about six months to develop a working prototype.

Hard and soft kill options are available using ST Engg's family of 40mm grenades packed with explosives or a new programmable round with a streamer payload (see below) respectively. The latter deploys a web of streamers that are designed to entangle the rotors of drones, thus bringing down the device. The streamers are said to be effective out to a radius of 5m.

Target acquisition and tracking is aided by an unknown radar sensor (above) that was absent during the airshow's media day. The planar radar antenna, which was fitted to the U-CAS RCWS during the trade and public days of the show, tracks aerial targets and calculates the required lead angle for the gunner to aim off. It is said to increase accuracy substantially compared to non radar-guided engagements as gunners tend to have difficulty with depth perception when aiming solely using the optical ball camera.

High and low velocity C-UAS rounds have time fuzes preset electronically to detonate the 40mm projectiles close to the target. For maximum effectiveness, the U-CAS gunner would usually fire a pattern of three to four time-fuzed 40mm grenades with the help of the radar to enmesh the drone within several simultaneously exploding clouds of streamers.The programming kit also works  with hard kill 40mm grenades.

The sharp end of the U-CAS comprises HE or HEDP grenades fired from a pair of six-shot Multiple Grenade Launcher. During operations, the MGLs are stowed under steel covers that pivot forward to provide access for reloading or servicing the MGLs. Alternatively, 5.56mm Ultimax 100 LMGs or 7.62mm GPMGs can be fitted to the U-CAS weapon cradle. The effective range for high velocity 40mm grenades was quoted as 1,400m while low velocity grenades are effective out to 300m.

While the instinct for some (most?) of us is to kill any pesky drones that come our way, ST Engg's U-CAS team argues otherwise. There's merit in soft kill options such as streamers that allow you to recover the damaged drone for forensics. This will allow you to find out what the drone operator was looking at and also trace the identity of the perpetrator. The streamers also disable and force down a drone immediately, unlike some soft kill options using disruptive signals that may lead to the drone escaping home on its default setting when the control signal is lost.

The alternative when such civil considerations aren't needed is to simply blast the drone out of the sky. In such cases, ST Engg offers a selection of 40mm grenades with High Explosive, High Explosive Dual Purpose and grenades fused for the electronic Air Burst Munition System, all of which would easily shred unarmoured drones.

Drone killer: Singapore Technologies Engineering's U-CAS weapon station seen at the Singapore Airshow preview. Note that a strobe light has replaced the thermal camera in the first image above. Radar antenna has yet to be installed above the LRAD.


sepecatgr1a said...

My observations of the ST developed C-UAV system are as follows :-

My understanding is that 6 shot 40 mm MGS systems can only fire LV or at best MV grenades. 40 mm MV grenades have a max range of about 800 m.

So the ST C-UAV system will require a 40 mm AGL to fire HV 40 mm to achieve the 1,400 m range.

Readers' comments please.

dtay said...

Distance estimation with monocular vision is always challenging. Given the need to operate in various environmental conditions with minimal human involvement, it's almost certain that there will be a radar (~75Ghz or higher) feed to a neural network for target discrimination, tracking and engagement.

With a networked automated system of sensors and shooters, a wide variety of weapons can be brought to bear from grenade launchers, cannon, shotguns, ... forming a miniaturized layered air defense system.