Monitoring the airspace is an important task. Even more so when dangers are becoming smaller and smaller: The use and circulation of small drones has increased substantially over recent years and months. While some regulatory frameworks exist, their implementation has proven difficult in practice. Airports especially are high-risk areas, as a collision between drones and airplanes – whether intentional or not – may result in accidents and even deadly crashes. Added to that the risk of drones employed as weapons by dropping explosives, biological or chemical substances, it becomes clear that airports and other critical infrastructures must be continuously monitored, secured and have access to means of intervention in cases where drones may enter their airspace.
But who defends against these threats?
HENSOLDT is a global player in the field of defence and security, offering a customizable Counter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (C-UAV) solution to safeguard the end-user’s activities against commercially available drones. Xpeller, HENSOLDT’s counter-UAV system, is a flexible stand-alone off-the-shelf system for civil and military users to counter threats stemming from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). It is capable of combining different kinds of detection and verification sensors and countermeasures in order to protect an area of concern against threats resulting from small drones. Its modular design allows Xpeller to be easily adapted and configured to the specific operational needs and scenarios of various user groups to protect people and sites, anytime, anywhere. It uses a combination of radar, electro-optical and (optical) RF signals, all integrated in operational software for an optimized detection of unauthorized drone threats. The resulting signal domination allows an optimized usage of countermeasures such as intercepting signals to defeat the drone threat successfully.
The Xpeller approach towards countering the UAV threat is based on a multi sensor/effector layer and a three step workflow:
1. Detect the potential threat with the best possible probability of detection.
2. Identify the potential threat as an actual threat with the least possible false alarm rate.
3. Act on the threat by raising alarms, or engaging the threat with a counter measure.
HENSOLDT has decades of experience with a broad portfolio of sensors, effectors and sensor fusion that make up a complete counter-UAV system solution.
Already in 2018, HENSOLDT demonstrated its Xpeller counter-UAV system at the Airbus airfield in Hamburg. During the demonstration, Xpeller detected UAVs approaching from a number of locations and was able to identify a variety of UAVs, including small recreational models, from a distance of several miles away. Xpeller can assess a UAV’s threat potential, analyze its control signals, and then activate a jammer that disrupts the link between drone and operator or interfere with the drone’s navigation. The Xpeller system is modular and can be technologically tailored to meet individual customer requirements and local conditions.
In the past, HENSOLDT has successfully secured a number of high-profile events in France. The Xpeller modules used in all of the events are made up of Z:NightOwl cameras, Spexer radars and proprietary software. These modules can be easily integrated into existing systems. The experiences gained with and the feedback received from each installation were used to immediately optimize the following deployment. Xpeller distinguishes itself particularly through its modularity and scalability. As such, it is tailored precisely to customer requirements.
-Markus Wolf, Director of Sales and Business Development Xpeller at HENSOLDT Ventures
“Among our most recent successes is supporting the German Armed Forces in the protection of their forward operating bases in their operational areas. We will supply three Spexer2000 3D radars and one Z:NightOwl M camera as Xpeller module packages,” said Markus Wolf, Director of Sales and Business Development Xpeller at HENSOLDT Ventures. The Xpeller modules are used as part of container-based drone defence systems within the GUARDION overall system of ESG Elektronik system- und Logistik-GmbH and its partners for a total of five drone defence systems. “The Spexer2000 3D radar is characterized by outstanding detection capabilities, especially against asymmetric threats. The Z:NightOwl M camera was specially developed for high ranges. With it, we support drone defence against so-called Class I drones, that is, unmanned aircraft weighing up to 25 kg,” added Markus Wolf.
HENSOLDT has already demonstrated its extensive experience in drone defence with its Xpeller counter-UAV system on several occasions. In addition to permanent deployment, customers also use the system for temporary protection of major events. A recent example was the deployment of Xpeller during the Dutch Day of Remembrance in Amsterdam in May 2020, marking the successful introduction of Xpeller as a service.