Australian Defence Force tests directed-energy C-UAS

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has tested a counter-uncrewed aerial system (C-UAS) technology at its Puckapunyal range. 

ADF’s first directed-energy weapon, called the Fractl Portable High Energy Laser, is silent and can track objects as small as a 10-cent piece travelling 100km per hour a kilometre away. Melbourne company AIM Defence designed the suitcase-sized laser. 

At the Puckapunyal demonstration, the team ‘hard killed’ a drone at 500m with a deployable prototype. Corporal Patrick Flanagan soon got to grips with the system and shot down a drone during the demonstration. “You push a button to track the drone and the computer takes over, then you push another button to ‘pull the trigger’ just like a video game,” Corporal Flanagan said. “With your index finger you can quickly change your aim between the drone’s video camera, centre mass or one of the propellers. It only takes seconds to knock out the camera and two or three seconds to disable the rotor.”

The laser’s strength is limited by the power supply and AIM Defence says it has successfully engaged drones at 1km in past tests. 

Directed-energy C-UAS weapons’ effectiveness was pronounced during a side-by-side demonstration with armoured crews in the days before the showcase. 

ADF’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office’s (RICO) Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Eli Lea said results were mixed. 

“They consumed a lot of ammunition and were hitting the target at very close range. There was no margin for error,” WO2 Lea said. “Laser weapons essentially have an endless magazine as long as there’s power. Modern fire control systems specifically designed to track and engage drones are what’s needed.” 

WO2 Lea said the Fractl Portable High Energy Laser could be one of many emerging weapons on future battlefields. “Drones come in all shapes and sizes and you need a variety of tools to defeat the threat,” WO2 Lea said. “Shooting small multi-rotor UAS out of the sky is particularly challenging. A directed-energy weapon that can detect, track and engage those types of targets is a part of that tool set.

“The lessons from Ukraine are that drones are a genuine problem and if we don’t do anything about it, we’re going to get a rude awakening in the next fight.”

For more information

Australian Defense Force

Image: The AIM Defence counter-UAS directed-energy weapons system during a demonstration at the Puckapunyal Military Area (ADF).

Share this:
D-Fend advert. Click for website