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At an internal event, the Bundeswehr procurement office BAAINBw presented the recently procured defense system against unmanned aircraft (ASUL). Almost two years after the start of the project, the Bundeswehr says on its website, the system is ready for transport to operational areas in order to protect the emergency services in the field camp from unmanned aircraft.

Small unmanned aircraft systems, better known as small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) or drones weighing up to 25 kilograms, are described as an increasing threat, especially in operational and mission areas where field camps are increasingly overflown by such aircraft.

With the newly introduced ASUL drone defense system, all the necessary capabilities are now combined in a stationary overall system for the first time, according to the Bundeswehr. The sUAS can be detected, classified and identified, as well as combated, in real time from a fixed location.

ASUL is the drone defense solution GUARDION, adapted to the military requirements of the Bundeswehr, from a consortium of the companies Diehl Defense, ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH and Rohde & Schwarz and includes the delivery of five container-based drone defense systems. The main technological components are Spexer 2000 3D radars and Night Owl M cameras from Hensoldt, R&S Ardronis radio direction finders from Rohde & Schwarz and effectors from HP Wüst.

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ASUL reconnaissance elements: Night Owl camera (top), Xpeller Spexer 200 (below), and radio direction finder (right). Photo: Bundeswehr Dirk Bannert

As the main contractor, ESG is responsible for the entire system and, together with its integration partner Schall, is responsible for integrating the individual high-tech components. In addition, ESG is responsible for processing all sensor data using the core intelligence it has developed and for displaying the intuitive situation picture via the ELYSION management system, which is also from ESG. ELYSION is a comprehensive further development of the GUARDION software core consisting of processing core intelligence and highly networked, map-based situational representation.

During development, the focus was particularly on the areas of intuitive usability, automation and high-performance data processing.

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According to the Bundeswehr, the system basically consists of two easily transportable containers. The sensors for detection and identification are housed in the smaller 10-foot container. This consists of a mast that can be extended up to five meters with three radars and a camera system with day and night vision capability. These capabilities are supplemented by a radio frequency (RF) direction finder, which can clarify the control signals and thus, if necessary, the position of the drone pilot. Reconnaissance and possible combat against sUAS are controlled in the 20-foot container, which is twice as large. A stationary, remote-controlled jammer, i.e. an electromagnetic jammer, is installed to combat it. Due to its higher electrical power compared to the previous shoulder-supported variant, the interference range is increased by approximately twice. This means that corresponding aircraft can be fought at a distance of a few kilometers, as the Bundeswehr writes.

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ASUL is accommodated in two containers that can be moved. Photo: ESG

The Bundeswehr writes about the combat process: If an aircraft is detected by radars and direction finders, its data is first compared by the system using databases. This is how it is determined whether it could basically be a drone. As soon as a suspected target object has been detected, the system informs the operators in real time. The camera system can be used to verify whether the drone can be classified as threatening. This makes it clear whether, for example, it is a spying drone or the aircraft is equipped with explosives. The jammer can then be aimed at the target object to combat the drone. To do this, a signal is sent out that disrupts, blocks or overrides the radio connection between the drone and its operating device. This means that the drone initially remains in the air and can then be rendered harmless depending on the threat.

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ASUL Effector: Jammer Photo: Bundeswehr

The Bundeswehr has purchased five ASUL systems. A system is in Todendorf and is already being used for training. The four other systems are ready to be installed for field camp protection in operations.

According to the Bundeswehr, ASUL has proven itself during its maiden deployment at the 2022 G7 summit in Elmau. There, the Bundeswehr supported the security of the airspace by successfully detecting drones and then rendering them harmless by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Police. The underlying GUARDION system has been used by ESG several times at important events to protect against drones, not least at the G7 summit in 2015, also in Elmau.

“Germany is one of the few European countries with a comparatively strong drone defense system. For us, this is a first milestone of an exciting, new time in air defense,” said Hendrikje N., the C-sUAS project manager at BAAINBw.

Editors / gwh