Minutes: Discussion Area 2 - UAV Tracking, Identification and Tactical Control

(Discussion Area Leader: Michel Desbois)

The subject area included four presentations:

  1. "Common UAV Control Design Challenges" (NATO UNCLAS), Captain (USN) M.J.Witte, US UAV Program Office and Chairman of Project Group 35 on NATO Maritime UAV.
  2. "Sensor Modeling for Detection of Air Vehicles" (NATO UNCLAS), Mr T. Bru, Surveillance Branch, Air C2 and Sensors Division, NATO C3 Agency, The Hague, NL.
  3. "Detection, Tracking and Identification" (NATO UNCLAS), Mr R. vd Heiden & Mr B. Brown, Surveillance Branch, Air C2 and Sensors Division, NATO C3 Agency, The Hague, NL
  4. "Interoperability UAVs with C4I in the Digital Battle Space" (NATO UNCLAS), Mr J. Maffert & L. Lévêque, Division ISTI, Aerospatiale, France

Question opportunities were provided after each presentation and at the end of the Discussion Area briefings. Questions and discussion are summarized below:

Q. We are discussing about a large variety of UAVs. It will be worth having a breakdown of Class of UAVs.

A. The papers showed the various problems raised by UAVs, ranging from poor target detection to sharp manoeuver capability. Not all UAVs have these type-specific characteristics and various categories would definitely facilitate the understanding of the problem.

Q. Is there a NATO approach to design an architecture for the Command & Control of UAVs?

A. UAV is not currently a NATO mission type. There is not a unique approach to handle the Command & Control of UAVs. This is mainly associated with the Data Link used to exchange information with UAVs. The US have in mind to equip all UAVs with L16 capabilities when other Nations thing this is far too expensive and not considered for mini-UAVs. Results of NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) Study Group 53 on a common UAV control system give advices and the NATO Advanced Tactical Demonstration Program for an interoperable tactical UAV will certainly bring answers to a common approach for tracking, ID, Mission Planning and Tactical Control.

Q. Discussion surfaced the issues of the communications. Is there any trend for the frequency band to be principally used for UAVs?

A. C-Band, Ku-Band and L-Band have been used successfully. There is no preferred frequency band at the moment and this issue is mainly driven by the Data Link.

Q. Discussion on the detectability of UAVs. Discussion on identification technologies.

A. There was disagreement among participants as to the actual detectability of modern UAVs, several members thought that all current UAV systems were easily detectable by modern exiting radars, however, there were a majority of members who did not agree with this assessment. Identification of non-cooperative vehicles is a significant problems area. There was general acknowledgement that the use of tansponder technologies significantly increased unit costs and needed careful consideration for mini- and small classes of UAVs. There was general agreement that the data link signature would be relatively easy to detect and locate.

Summary wrap-up:

  1. NATO must examine interoperability of UAVs and existing/planned tactical data links.

  1. Definition of class, category or type of UAVs would help to address various problems raised by the UAVS. The workshop dealt with:

Critical issues like mock-up (e.g., RCS models), detection, tracking and identification are absolutely dissimilar vis-à-vis these various categories, and must be addressed distinctively.