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October 17, 2019

Anduril Industries which is a small California-based
tech startup has revealed that it has started delivering”hard kill” drones to the U.S
military that are designed to bring down enemy drones. As of now, it is not clear which branch of
the U.S military is procuring these. The drone in question is named ‘Interceptor’
and was unveiled on Oct 3, 2019. It is designed to destroy similarly sized
hostile unmanned aircraft by physically ramming them in air. In this video Defense Updates analyses U.S
military deploying Hard kill drones to kill enemy drones. Let’s get started This video is sponsored by War Thunder. If you are, like us, fascinated by military
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20 million players from all over the world! Drone technology has evolved rapidly and these
can evade even advance air defense systems. The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have shown
that this kind of capability is within reach of even non-state actors. In January 2018, a mass drone attack was witnessed
on Russia’s main outposts in Syria – the Khmeimim airbase and the naval base in Tartus. On 19 July this year, U.S President Donald
Trump had said that the USS Boxer downed an Iranian drone. As per him, the drone came within 1,000 yards
of the U.S Navy ship and ignored “multiple calls to stand down”. Mr. Trump Speaking at the White House, said
the drone was “threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew” in the Strait of
Hormuz and was “immediately destroyed.” Jonathan Hoffman, Chief Pentagon spokesman
wrote, “At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the
amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit
of the Strait of Hormuz. A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS)
approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the
UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew,”
The takedown was done through Marine Air Defense Integrated System or MADIS which uses several
types of Electronic Warfare techniques like radio frequencies jamming to block the communication
system of the drone. On September 14, facilities of Saudi Arabia’s
oil company Aramco located in the east of the country came under attack. As per reports, the raid began around 4 a.m
and drones as well as cruise missiles were used in the attack, there were 18 drones and
7 missiles. The world’s biggest oil refinery near the
city of Abqaiq and a refinery near Khurais, where Saudi’s second-largest oil field is
located were targeted. Patriot PAC-2 surface-to-air missile batteries
that the U.S. sold to Saudi Arabia failed to protect the facility from the raid. These incidents clearly demonstrate the impact
drones can make and this threat will become more prominent in the coming days. Currently, there are two ways to neutralize
drones 1. Soft kill approach where the drone is jammed
with Electronic Warfare (EW). In this method, the drone’s communication
with the ground control station is disrupted resulting in them falling out of the sky. 2. Hard kill approach where the enemy drone is
physically damaged. This can be done by intercepting the drone
with missiles, automated gun systems and lasers. This is important to note that the Soft Kill
approach will not always work. New age drones powered by AI are more self-reliant
and don’t need continuous human control and hence are resistant to Electronic Warfare. Several new variants of drones can automatically
return to the operator even if the communication is lost. Hard Kill approach with missiles is not very
cost-effective. For example, an FIM-92 Stinger short-range
shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile has a price of $ 38,000 and a Patriot surface-to-air
missile costs around 1 million each. Hard Kill method with lasers is still taking
shape. Anduril was co-founded by Palmer Luckey, who
also founded virtual reality headset startup Oculus VR, which was sold to Facebook for
$2.3 billion in 2014. Anduril started with drones that are designed
for surveillance. These drone uses electro-optical and infrared
sensors to spot and track. Anduril has now moved beyond surveillance
and is developing interception solutions. Palmer Luckey told Bloomberg in an interview,
“All the soft kill systems are a waste of time”, referring to the inherent weakness
of the approach. The firm claims that Electronic Warfare tactics
like radio-jamming will become useless as consumer and semi consumer drones become more
sophisticated. Luckey in a post on Twitter,
“The best way to kill fast drones piloted by hostile humans is with even faster drones
piloted by AI,” “The United States cannot allow the skies of the world to turn into
the Wild West, our ability to take out aerial threats in a matter of seconds is part of
the solution.” Anduril’s quad-copter Interceptor uses the
same kind of technology as its other drones but is optimized to taking down enemy drones
by physically ramming against it. Its sensor detects and tracks the hostile
drone and the footage is transmitted in realtime to the operator on the ground.If the operator
gives the go-ahead, the Interceptor collides with the hostile drone to take it out. A demonstration video has been published by
Anduril. The link to the video is provided in the ‘Description’
section below. As demonstrated in the video, an operator
launched an off-the-shelf white quadcopter and flew it to a height of 100 feet off the
ground. Then Anduril’s ‘Interceptor’ is launched
which smashed into it and landed undamaged, while the white drone considered to be hostile
in this demonstration, fell to the ground in pieces. The ‘Interceptor’ drone can work day and
night. It is to be noted that Anduril’s surveillance,
as well as Interceptor drone, is part of the larger perimeter defense system, called Lattice
AI. Lattice AI collects and analyses data from
sensors on fixed ground stations and surveillance UAVs. The processed information is then used to
direct a coordinated response. Anduril is pitching Lattice AI to the US Department
of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. In June 2019, the US Marine Corps (USMC) announced
its intent to award Anduril a sole source contract for its system for perimeter defense
at bases in Japan, Hawaii and Arizona, according to a Justification and Approval notice. It is interesting to note that Anduril which
was founded in 2017 raised $41 million in venture capital financing as per some reports. Report by CNBC indicates that the startup
is valued at more than $1 billion. Several Silicon Valley venture capital firms
such as Andreesen Horowitz and Founders Fund who were two early backers of Facebook are
also backing Anduril. Drones – cheap and simple as well as sophisticated
once will be a challenge going forward. Anduril’s Interceptor is one of the several
solutions that will be at the forefront of counter-drone strategy. In the coming days, Anduril’s Interceptor
could be mounted on a mobile platform like an all-terrain vehicle for quick deployment. The Interceptor could also be feed data from
a larger air defense system network which will provide early warning and cueing and
this will enable better response especially if the attack is through swarm drones. Counter drone space is exploding and we can
expect to see a lot of development in this space. It is to be seen how things pan out in the
coming days but one thing is clear that the U.S military is now taking the drone challenge
seriously and this is certainly going to pave way for better capabilities in the future.

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  1. I assume there would have been a more high-tech solution to taking it out with another girl and then simply ramming it

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