#

​The Ultimate Advantage of Ukrainian Long-Range Kamikaze Drones Revealed: New-Gen DSMAC Guidance Like in Cruise Missiles

Illustrative render by Defense Express
Illustrative render by Defense Express
10050

This technology ignores enemy EW suppression, ensures proper navigation and enhances precision of strikes. It's also used in Tomahawk and Storm Shadow missiles but Ukrainian developers went further and created its new generation

Speaking of long-range drone strikes on targets in russia located over 1,200 km from the launch point, navigation is the key factor in success. That's because the drone has to not just reach the target but make it via a complex route that seeks to bypass enemy's air defense-protected areas.

Surely, that could be achieved by utilizing satellite navigation methods but those are vulnerable to electronic warfare systems, and knowing that, russia invested lots of money into expanding and improving its EW network. Moreover, even before the outbreak of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Moscow was working on creating whole "EW fields" that would suppress satellite navigation over entire regions of russia.

Read more: ​ISW Analyzes Ukrainian Strike on russian Shahed Drone Production Facility
Murmansk-BN electronic warfare system / Defense Express / The Ultimate Advantage of Ukrainian Long-Range Kamikaze Drones Revealed: New-Gen DSMAC Guidance Like in Cruise Missiles
Murmansk-BN electronic warfare system / Open-source illustrative photo

That's not to mention Tobol stationary systems, one of them fielded in the Kaliningrad region and creating constant problems with GPS in Europe. Similar level of power was declared also for the Murmansk-BN system, in the photo above.

That is why relying solely on satellite navigation is too ineffective. Therefore, as CNN learned from its sources, Ukrainian long-range drones employ a guidance system described as "basic form of artificial intelligence," and it helps the aerial vehicles to figure out their current location based on surroundings.

On the part of Defense Express, basically, it's an iteration of a well-known DSMAC (Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation) system but enhanced with modern technologies. The original DSMAC was introduced in the Tomahawk missile, the working principle is based on a pre-loaded reference image of the terrain that is tied to its real coordinates. During the flight, the cruise missile continuously takes photos of the terrain and compares them to the reference.

DSMAC operating principle / Defense Express / The Ultimate Advantage of Ukrainian Long-Range Kamikaze Drones Revealed: New-Gen DSMAC Guidance Like in Cruise Missiles
DSMAC operating principle / Graphics credit: Guidance and Navigation in the Global Engagement Department

However, it was developed in the 1980–1990s, when the computing capacity and storage memory were limited. Nowadays, however, hardware allows to pre-load the entire route into the missile, not just the key points of it and easily distinguishable areas, like crossroads. Furthermore, advanced algorithms for object recognition can enable the missile to fully navigate by landmarks.

From that we can pretty much figure out how the drone's targeting during the final — terminal — phase of flight. The same principle allows the guidance system to recognize the intended target by comparing its image to the reference picture or model. The same kind of technology is used in the Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missile. It also explains how, for example, Liutyi drones eliminate relatively small objects like smoke stacks at oil refineries with such precision.

Illustrative photo: results of one of the latest Ukrainian drone attacks on a russianoil refinery / Defense Express / The Ultimate Advantage of Ukrainian Long-Range Kamikaze Drones Revealed: New-Gen DSMAC Guidance Like in Cruise Missiles
Illustrative photo: results of one of the latest Ukrainian drone attacks on a russian oil refinery / Photo credit: Serhii Sternenko via open sources

Thus, the navigation system used in Ukrainian long-range drones is not just a copy of DSMAC, but in fact its new, more advanced version with much broader capabilities. At the same time, this guidance method has drawbacks which Defense Express analyzed in one of our previous articles.

Read more: ​Ukraine Apparently Can Jam Down P-800 Oniks Missiles, russians Admit and Try to Revamp the Missile