Why can’t drones be designed to home in on and destroy jammers?

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If I understand correctly, a jammer puts out a bunch of RF to overload a drone’s remote link or GPS signal. Why wouldn’t it be trivially easy to just home in on that transmitter and destroy it?

In: Engineering

17 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can, but like, ever played an mmo videogame? Taunting an enemy to have to attack a certain thing is extremely useful. Throwing down a hammer and making everything stop so the enemy can slowly fly over to it and explode then turning on another so they slowly fly there keeps them from doing anything useful

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can, and do. They’re just expensive and complex to make, and ensuring one works takes a lot of trial and error, which – as I said – is expensive.

Ukraine has only recently (about this spring) started to use self-aiming drones that lock on a target, disable guidance input, and jamming at this point doesn’t matter, since it auto-flies to target. This makes it more of a loitering munition. And this still works only if drone can get close enough to get a lock-on, without being disabled.

But they’re still using those to target military targets, not jammers. Smaller jammers are tricky, you can put put them into cover or forest, hide into tree branches or whatever, and drones can’t quite reach them. Only big EW vehicles with radars are more easily targetable, but you can target them as well with artillery then – drones are used for precision strikes and fast-moving targets.

Also, for drone to “home in” to a signal, it needs a clunky detector for that signal receiver. Which leaves less available weight for explosives. Which makes it a crappy drone.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can and they do. You’re better off gaining as much info from the jamming site as possible so thats when it becomes more of a precision mission.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Don’t think for a second the US Military doesn’t have the equipment or capability to do this. already. They can knock out complete power systems. Jam GPS signals and all signals, divert Airplanes to force them to land where we want them to, Blind people using binoculars with lasers and many things we’ll never hear about.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can and do exist. You will have a hard time finding information about it, because much of it is highly classified. Anti radar missions are for the U.S. military called wild weasel. Those pilots, planes and missiles look for enemy radar, one activated they fire a missile at the radar site.

Electronic counter warfare is a major part of modern warfare. Jam enemy search and targeting. Feed false information to enemy sensors to make it look like the attackers are in a different position, not there or even larger or smaller than the attacking force is. For example recently in Syria Israeli fighters made it seem like the attack was different from what actually happened

https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Technology/story?id=3702807&page=1

As lay people details of what happened is highly classified and we will never know. The Russians and the Syrians won’t want to disclose what flaws or data from the incident they gathered. The Israelis won’t want to disclose what they did.

But you can be sure that drones that can perform wild weasel or electronic warfare exist or are being developed by most advanced nations

Anonymous 0 Comments

unfortunately home on jam is a specialised function that requires the drone to switch to fully autonomous mode, find the source and fly into it. then it needs to be robustly tested for bugs so you don’t end up killing yourself or friendlies nearby.

the Ukrainian FPV units using civilian tech have modified the gear to use directional antennas on both TX and RX for range and use case. this complicates the ability of individual drones to ascertain the source of jamming without adding additional hardware.

they are “dealing” jamming by brute force numbers (sending drone after drone until one manages to hit the original target because jamming itself is not foolproof). There is a short documentary from Scripps News basically showing a Ukr FPV pilot having to fly several drones to the same target because the first four were downed by jamming. the last one worked.

A Ukr defense minister previously said the FPV cost per kill of a Russian soldier is $1700. no doubt cheap because no new technology needed to be developed.

maybe radiation killer drones are in the works but I doubt this will come from anyone other than the Americans or Israelis. for now it is just too cheap and too easy to just send more civilian tech at the enemy.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It wouldn’t be trivial, you would have to have multiple directional antennas or a phased antenna array connected to something like a computer that can process the incoming signals and to make a decision on if it’s intentional jamming or not. Then you would have to compare power levels on the different antennas or sweep with a phased array to determine a heading. The latter is kind of like how dishy for starlink can aim in different directions based on where a clear view of the sky is. If the decision logic for intentional jamming isn’t very good it might just home in on Wi-Fi access points.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Drones can’t easily home in on and destroy jammers because jammers spread their signal over a wide area, making it hard to pinpoint their exact location. Plus, jammers can be mobile and quickly change positions. Additionally, the jamming signal itself can interfere with the drone’s ability to navigate and communicate, making it difficult for the drone to operate effectively. So, while it sounds simple, the technical challenges make it quite complicated.

Anonymous 0 Comments

FPV kamikaze drones are based on civilian tech. They’re really quite ‘dumb’ beyond the attitude control features and don’t have directional sensing antennas. Lots of the kamikaze ones don’t even have GPS.

What you’re looking for exists, but it’s called an anti-radiation missile. They can sniff out what way to fly to hit the radiation source.

Anonymous 0 Comments

OP, you’ve got a great question there.

The problem is relative signal strength. The drone creates a ton of noise by running 4x ESCs and brushless motors. It may broadcast on 400mhz ,900mhz, 1.2, 1.5, 2.4, 5.8 ghz. God only knows what other bands are running up there right now.

The signals on the bird will interfere with its ability to home in on another signal at range, even if it’s a very strong signal. Remember that received power is the inverse of the square of distance. When distance is zero, the signal is very strong, even if it really isn’t strong in absolute power.

To combat that, you’ve got to get the RF transmitters off the bird and quiet it down a bit. That means 1 ESC not 4, or better a nitro engine that runs like a diesel, not electric or magneto powered. No video transmitter. No RC input. Shielding on the GPS system. Shielding on the computers. Then, because you have a fixed wing, you can incorporate antennas into the wings for receive.

The original shrike seeker could probably fit on a 10 inch quad if you could power it. The questions then become – is your bird fast enough to make a difference? Can it carry enough bang to make a difference? Is it better to power that whole package with a rocket, than a propeller?

An anti radiation drone is intriguing. But I think fitting it to existing guided surface to surface rockets would be more effective in the short term. The thing that gives drones their power isn’t their flying capabilities or speed. It’s the fact that there is a human flying and interpreting data from the drone. Best guidance system there is…