Leonardo, in collaboration with the Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) of the Royal Air Force, has successfully conducted a series of live tests to test the capabilities of the so-called "drone swarms". During the demonstration, some small remotely piloted aircraft, equipped with powerful Leonardo jammers, were used to disturb and neutralize some test radars, which in turn simulated adversary air defense systems.
Inspired by the world of insects, the concept of drone swarms is considered a potential disruptive technology in the Defense sector. Following a rapid development cycle, which saw the RCO and Leonardo engineers work in close collaboration with British companies Callen Lenz and Blue Bear, these tests conducted by the British Armed Forces represent a fundamental step to validate autonomous capabilities in specific segment.
In particular, during the demonstration, a number of drones were equipped with Leonardo's BriteCloud decoy appropriately modified, which allowed each drone to individually produce a highly sophisticated electronic disturbance effect. In addition, the decoys have been programmed to work collaboratively and thus produce noise at the highest levels. The countermeasures were tested against ground radar systems representative of the enemy air defense positions. The evidence has shown that, with the electronic noise produced, swarms of drones equipped with the BriteCloud are capable of neutralizing radar threats.
The information gathered from the demonstration will be used to implement potential future programs in the UK aimed at acquiring a standalone capability on drone swarms.
Originally developed as an advanced protection system for combat aircraft, the BriteCloud entered service with the RAF in 2018, another world first for Leonardo and the RCO. BriteCloud can mimic the radar track of the aircraft that emitted it, causing opposing radar systems to track the decoy instead of the aircraft. BriteCloud is available to the Allied Armed Forces and is currently in evaluation with the US Defense.