Newly Developed Identification Friend or Foe System Will Save russian Drones From Allied Air Defenses

Illustrative photo: a russian soldier launches a camera drone / Open source photo
Illustrative photo: a russian soldier launches a camera drone / Open source photo

The russians claim they are ready for mass production of this system

Rostec, a russian defense industrial corporation, announced the development and successful testing of special equipment for their Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) system for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Allegedly ready for serial production, this "small-sized device" weighs 150 grams and requires minimal power consumption, so the russians want to integrate it into every drone possible, including ordinary Mavics.

Read more: Ukrainian Solutions to Anti-Drone Warfare: Kvertus on Developments Refined by War
Launch of a russian Orlan-10 UAV
Launch of a russian Orlan-10 UAV / Open source photo

According to Rostec's researchers, the UAVs equipped with the IFF system will enable air defense teams, helicopters, and aircraft to identify "friendly" drones within a range of up to 100 km and at altitudes up to 5 km.

The working principle is the following: when a radar irradiates the drone, an encrypted signal is sent in response, allowing the radar holder to recognize the drone as an ally. The system is compatible with radar stations using the Parol identification system, developed in the Soviet Union.

The russians admit that at the beginning of their so-called "special operation" (what they call the full-scale invasion of their forces into Ukraine in February 2022) there were not so many drones in the sky, so they kept it simple: drone operators told the air defense units where they were planning to deploy the UAVs.

russian Tahion UAV, downed by Ukrainian forces
russian Tahion UAV, downed by Ukrainian forces / Illustrative photo credit: Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

But today, when hundreds, if not thousands, of drones are flying over the frontline, this manual approach is no longer viable.

"Our air defense is shooting down absolutely everything," as russian military experts say. The introduction of an IFF system should at least partially solve the problem of friendly fire, and help preserve both drones and ammunition.

russian Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile/artillery system
russian Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile/artillery system / Open source illustrative photo

On the part of Defense Express, we should stress that this IFF system is apparently still being tested, not witnessed in action, and only practice will show if it proves effective on the battlefield.

Also, there are so many drones today and so many of them get downed, they've basically become consumables. Therefore the "friend or foe" systems must be produced on a great scale and applied at each corner to make a difference.

And of course, currently, both russian and Ukrainian specialists are constantly improving drones so that they can perform their tasks on the battlefield to maximum efficiency.

This war has already shown a unique scenario of modern warfare, with hundreds of drones of different types, sizes and purposes, all operating in the sky at the same time. To apprehend the scale, in 2024 Ukraine invests more budget in drones alone than for all weapons in 2021.

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