Drone Dome Secures First Customer

 - August 23, 2018, 2:02 PM
Four Rada MHR radars are seen mounted on an all-terrian vehicle to give 360-degree coverage. The array is topped with an electro-optic turret. (photo: Rada)

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Drone Dome has been ordered by the United Kingdom, the first customer for the counter-unmanned air system (C-UAS) equipment. Six Drone Dome systems are being procured for the British Army under a $20 million urgent operational capability (UOR) program and are due for delivery before the end of the year.

The order comes eight months after the system was demonstrated to the British Army, having been unveiled by Rafael in 2016. Leonardo and fellow Israeli company IAI also competed for the order. Follow-on orders are likely to materialize from the UK beyond the initial six units.

Drone Dome will be deployed to sensitive sites, and those where UK forces are located, to provide protection against small UASs and drones, with a specific requirement to operate against air vehicles weighing between 2 and 22 kg (4.4 and 48.5 pounds), although the system is designed to tackle drones of up to 150 kg (330 pounds), according to Rafael. A minimum-defeat range of less than 500 meters (1,640 feet) was part of the requirement, which was open to contenders with systems that were at TRL (technological readiness level) 8 or higher. The system must also be capable of operating in a secure environment classified to at least NATO Secret Rel FVEY ("Five Eyes") level.

Rafael’s C-UAS system has multiple sensors, including the Controp MEOS electro-optic system with infrared and TV sensors, Netline NetSense wideband RF detection receivers, and radar. The latter comprises an array of four RPS-42 Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radars (MHR) supplied by Israeli company Rada. The system provides 360-degree coverage out to around five km (3.1 miles). Data from the sensors is fuzed on a command-and-control display for operation by a single soldier.

Netline also provides the C-Guard RD electronic jamming system that provides Drone Dome with a soft-kill capability. There is also a hard-kill option in the shape of a high-power laser effector, but this has not been selected by the UK for its systems. The system is compact enough to be mounted on a light all-terrain vehicle (ATV), such as the British Army’s Springer that is based on the Tomcar ATV platform.