Chinese jamming technology is threatening American drones
At a March 11 soccer game in Wuhan, China, police faced a new kind of threat: drones trespassing near the stadium. Their response was to use a new kind of weapon: an anti-drone gun that military jammer the control signals, forcing the trespassing drones to land automatically.
But service officials will not disclose the type of system and whether it uses electronic jamming, conventional missiles, a combination of both, or some other method to down enemy drones.
Given China’s role as a global leader in consumer drone and military unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) exports, it only makes sense that China is also developing a range of anti-drone capabilities to stop unauthorized or hostile flying robots from coming over sensitive or vulnerable sites. In the case of Wuhan, the GPS signal jammer “guns”—known as such not just because they “shoot” but also because they look like an assault rifle—cost approximately $19,000, and can reportedly jam control signals up to a kilometer away (though that figure assumes that the user has exceptional aim).
The system was purchased by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. The organization at the base oversees communications and electronics purchases, which would hint the deal is likely for some some type of jamming system that can take down the small drones without firing a shot.
The weapon is only one example of anti-drone tech. Comparable American jamming rifles, like the Drone Jammer Gun, are already used by Coalition forces in Iraq looking to shut down ISIL quadcopters used for surveillance and grenade attacks. Meanwhile, some European forces have gone for more novel solutions, like training eagles to attack errant small drones.
This anti-drone gun isn’t China’s only jammer, either. The country is already selling truck-mounted laser cannons: the Low Altitude Guard and the higher powered Silent Hunter. The Silent Hunter uses a laser to zap ground and air targets up to 4 kilometers (about 2.5 miles) away, and at closer range is powerful enough to threaten lightly armored vehicles.