Russia unveils system to neutralize combat UAVs

By Editor 09-Jun-2021

Russia’s Ministry of Defence has conducted a series of field exercises where the Igla man-portable air defence system proved its effectiveness against attacks by combat UAVs

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAVs) carrying weapons are increasingly posing a major threat to defence installations around the world. In this scenario, Russia’s Ministry of Defence has conducted a series of field exercises during which the Igla man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) was successfully tested against combat UAVs along with the Buk medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems.

During one exercise, held at Orenburg Region in Russia, the defence systems repelled more than 80 UAV attacks of a simulated enemy. Earlier, the Buk and Igla air defence systems were used together at another exercise to protect the military facilities in the Kursk Region from manned and unmanned attacks. During this exercise, the simulated targets were intercepted at altitudes of 5-10 km. These exercises reflect the latest Russian trend of integrating various assets into the multilayered air defence network. Under a training programme of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, control checks are being carried out in the military command and control bodies, formations and military units.

Russia officially unveiled the new integrated counter-UAV system, which can combine soft-kill and hard-kill mechanisms such as radio-electronic warfare and missile systems as well as radars, at the Aero India and IDEX 2021 defence shows.

One of the highlights of Igla-S is that it provides close-in air defence. According to the design firm KBM, a subsidiary of Rostec State Corporation and the developer of the Igla-S, the major features of the system include increased weight of explosive warhead (1.5-fold, compared to the Igla missile), introduction of a proximity fuse in addition to the existing impact fuse, improved missile accuracy, night-fire capability with a night sight, and firing range increased from 5.2 to 6 km.

"Igla is capable of working under conditions of thermal interference and performs friend-or-foe identification. The latest variant, the Igla-S, has been improved to hit small targets, including cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles," said a media release from Rostec.

Offer to India

Dmitry Shugaev, director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), has revealed plans to introduce the Igla-S system in India. “An agreement on the production of Igla-S MANPADS in India will be signed in the near future,” he said in an interview.

“Everything is proceeding smoothly with our Indian partners. I hope that in the near future an agreement will be signed for the production and supply of Igla-S to India, especially because we have won the tender unconditionally,” he said.

Presentation at IDEX

At IDEX 2021, the International Defence Exhibition held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Rosoboronexport, a part of Rostec State Corporation, staged a public presentation titled ‘New Approaches to Building an Integrated Counter UAV System’. The choice of the venue was significant.  Several incidents of attacks on administrative and industrial facilities in a number of Middle Eastern countries utilizing UAVs in 2019 and 2020 revealed new threats and security challenges. It was obvious that new defence mechanisms were needed in the face of the growing use of UAVs by terror groups.

At the presentation, Rosoboronexport unveiled its new package solution, a system capable of effectively countering attacks by UAVs, combining electronic warfare and air defence systems of various classes. UAV jamming systems are most effective against light and partly medium-class drones. These assets are capable of countering a massive air raid by UAVs by suppressing their command/telemetry and navigation channels.

For instance, the Repellent-Patrol EW system developed and manufactured by JSC Defense Systems provides zone coverage of the territories. It is a long-range system capable of jamming drones at a range of up to 20 km. Similarly, the Kupol and Rubezh-Avtomatika systems developed by Avtomatika Concern, also a part of Rostec State Corporation, carry out continuous radio surveillance and create a protective dome over the installation. This is an impenetrable barrier capable of repelling attacks not only by single drones, but also their massive use from different directions and altitudes within a radius of at least 3 km. Meanwhile, the Pishchal electromagnetic gun is one of the lightest handheld jammers on the market, weighing a mere 3.5 kg. It can jam UAV control/navigation channels at a range of 2 km.

As a hard-kill component of its counter UAV system, Rosoboronexport offers short-range air defense systems, in particular, KBP’s Pantsir-S1M self-propelled anti-aircraft gun/missile (SPAAGM) system or Almaz-Antey’s Tor-type SAM system. The ‘last-ditch’ air defence will be ideally provided by the Verba or Igla-S MANPADS, as well as the Gibka-S MANPADS squad combat vehicles, capable of firing Verba or Igla-S MANPADS.