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

Small unmanned aircraft, 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 the camps are increasingly overflown by such aircraft.

With the newly introduced anti-drone system ASUL, 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 in real time from a fixed location, as well as combated.

ASUL is the GUARDION drone defense solution adapted to the military requirements of the German Armed Forces by a consortium of companies Diehl Defence, 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.

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, takes on the integration of 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 a highly networked, map-based situation display.

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

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. These capabilities are supplemented by a radio frequency (RF) direction finder, which can clarify the control signals and, if necessary, also the position of the drone pilot. In the 20-foot container, which is twice as large, reconnaissance and any combat actions are controlled by sUAS. 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 about twice. This means that corresponding aircraft can be fought at a distance of a few kilometers, as the Bundeswehr writes.

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 are first compared by the system using databases. This is how it is determined whether it could in principle be a drone. As soon as a supposed target object has been detected, the system informs the operators in real time. The camera system can be used to verify whether the drone is classified as a threat. It becomes clear whether it is, for example, a spy drone or the aircraft is equipped with explosives. After that, the jammer can be aimed at the target to fight the drone. To do this, a signal is sent out that disrupts, blocks or superimposes the radio link between the drone and its control unit. This means that the drone initially remains in the air and can then be rendered harmless depending on the threat.

ASUL Effector: Jammer Photo: Bundeswehr

The Bundeswehr has procured five ASUL systems. One system is in Todendorf and is already being used for training. The four other systems are ready to be laid for field camp protection during operations.

According to the Bundeswehr, ASUL has proven itself during its maiden mission at the G7 summit in Elmau in 2022. There, the Bundeswehr provided support in securing 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 in an exciting new era in air defense,” said Hendrikje N., the C-sUAS project manager at BAAINBw.

Editors / gwh