Italy is ramping up efforts to develop a passive radar that can detect a drone carrying a bomb inside a drone swarm. Italian defense giant Leonardo has taken up this project.

While traditional radars bounce signal from an observed object and recognizes it signature, Leonardo’s passive radar will have to deflect the radio signal and then intercept it. According to officials from the Italian defense company, this passive radar can be helpful in areas which have an abundance of radio antennas, mobile phones and televisions.

Leonardo’s passive radar is likely to feature a smart algorithm allowing it to distinguish between objects of similar sizes, such as a drone and a seagull. With improved machine learning algorithms, operators of the passive radar will be able to detect which of the drones in a swarm of drones is armed, in order to attack it.

“Laboratory tests with passive radar as a way to identify drones have been positive,” said an employee from Leonardo.

Italy’s defense ministry believes that the technology being developed in passive radar is the future for the detection, interception and destruction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Improvements in drone technology has resulted in them gaining more autonomy, as a result their transmission of radio or electronic broadcasts have diminished making it challenging to “capture” their signature using current technology. This means that drones have to have a more efficient power supply so that they can fly longer, faster and process data more efficiently.

“In the future, we could see kamikaze drones targeting radar, like an anti-radiation missile. That means the radar you use has to be harder to spot by a drone. We are working on radars that use reduced power, change frequency constantly and transmit intermittently,” said an Italian defense experts.

Anti-drone systems

Italian defense experts are of the opinion that lasers or microwave weapons is the future of countering drones.

“Tests of similar kinetic technologies will take place in October this year among NATO member states”, said Colonel Salvatore Lombardi.

Amendola Air Base, at Lombardi, southern Italy, is the Italian Air Force’s UAV Center of Excellence; the tests will take place there.

Currently, the Italian army uses various ACUS systems that jam the enemy’s radio frequency and GPS.

The principle behind ACUS systems is the detection of radio frequency and interception of electronic commands of the enemy drone.