AUSA: Small drones pose big dangers on the battlefield, where the Islamic State has jury-rigged them as mini-kamikazes while the Russians use them to spot targets for devastating artillery barrages. So the US military has been scrambling to develop countermeasures, but there is no magic bullet. So Northrop Grumman’s AUDS — Anti-UAV Defense System — combines bullets with electrons.
Sure, bullets work, but small and nimble drones make tricky targets, plus you don’t want to start blazing away if something or someone you care about is behind the drone. Electronic warfare also works — you can spoof, jam, or even hack the remote-control links with your own radio signals — and does so without collateral damage, but you need to get the frequencies just right, whereas solid metal slugs are technically straightforward.
So Northrop has integrated an electronic warfare system — to detect and jam drone control transmissions — with its long-serving line of M230 Bushmaster chainguns — to blow the crap out of whatever you can’t jam. AUSA can also trace the drone back to its origin so you can direct some artillery or airstrikes at the sender.
The Air Force is buying a static version of AUDS for base defense, mounted in a CONEX shipping container for ease of transport and set-up. For the Army, Northrop is proposing to integrate AUDS onto the workhorse Stryker armored vehicle — already set to carry anti-aircraft missiles — in hopes of tapping the service’s urgent investment in air defense.