US Goes Back to Basics Inspired by Ukraine’s Spy Balloons

US Goes Back to Basics Inspired by Ukraine’s Spy Balloons

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The US military is reportedly considering developing acoustic sensors to counter drone threats inspired by Ukrainian prototypes used to find and track Russian drones. These sensors could potentially provide an early-warning system to US personnel to defend against long-range kamikaze drones.

The Ukrainian military has implemented a network comprising thousands of acoustic sensors nationwide to detect and track Russian kamikaze drones, which lets them alert their air defenses in advance and dispatch teams to shoot down the drones.

Nevertheless, the same results could potentially be achieved by the much simpler acoustic mirrors, which are large concrete parabolic passive listening devices that have been used by military air defense forces before the radar was invented. These devices were used as early-warning systems to detect incoming enemy aircraft by listening to the sound of their engines.

General James Hecker explains that the US military may test this capability to enhance its ability to monitor and engage drone threats. He states that at an unclassified level, Ukraine’s done some pretty sophisticated things to get after a persistent ISR picture of low-altitude objects, which now includes an acoustic sensor system that utilizes microphones to pick up and amplify ambient noise.

Many modern airborne threats, including small drones, cruise missiles, and stealthy aircraft and missiles, pose significant challenges to current radars. Hecker adds that unfortunately it will take some time to develop this technology, and the military needs to come up with other solutions in the meantime.

Given the difficulties in detecting, tracking, and defeating small aerial threats like kamikaze drones for frontline personnel, a “back to basics” use of acoustic listening devices could prove invaluable for the US military. It is not yet known what such systems will look like and how effective they will be, but nonetheless, it is an interesting development.