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Electronic Warfare and UAV Navigation UAS Autopilots

What is Electronic Warfare?

Electronic Warfare (shorten as EW) is the use of electronic and technological activity with the purpose of determining, exploiting, reducing, or avoiding hostile use of the energy spectrum by adversaries and, at the same time, keeping the use of the spectrum safe for one’s own benefit. 


What kind of Electronic Actions exists?

Due to the complexity of Electronic Warfare, it is helpful to distinguish the levels of action:

  • Electronic Support (ES): This includes all the actions required to search, identify, and locate irradiated electromagnetic radiation in order to recognize threats.
  • Electronic Protection (EP): This group of measures are geared towards ensuring the use of the electromagnetic spectrum despite its use by hands of the enemies in Electronic Attacks. This may be achieved using attack suppression measures or designing a system ready to detect, analyze, and initiate responses to known and potential threats.
  • Electronic Attack (EA): This is the use of electromagnetic energy to degrade or eliminate the enemy capabilities. Some of these actions are widely known, for example, signal jamming or spoofing, radio frequency (RF) weapons, etc.


UAV Navigation and Electronic Warfare

UAV Navigation's flight control solutions have been designed to optimize the trade-off between robust and reliable operation and tailored to the demands and requirements of UAS in classes I & II. This manufacturing process and high-quality electronic design enables the FCC to overcome a wide variety of malicious or accidental electronic interferences that can occur during flight.

One of the most critical data sources for a flight control system susceptible to interference is the GNSS signal. Most of the autopilots available on the market are highly dependent on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), being drastically affected by signal loss or malicious interference, both in the form of jamming or spoofing.

The improvement and reinforcement of the FCC in this field has bween one of the main focus areas of UAV Navigation developments in the last years. This way, the system has already shown its advanced capabilities on attitude estimation without GNSS and, therefore, GNSS-denied navigation and dead reckoning operations. Additionally, the company has also released dedicated products that enhance the system performance in the case of having unstable GNSS signal, such as the MG01 magnetometer which complements the DGC01 dual GNSS compass for heading estimation, during GNS-denied operations. On top of that, it highlights the Visual Navigation System, the peripheral system that allows the flight controller to reduce accumulated inertial navigation errors by combining terrain image processing techniques.

The attack using external energy sources, such as ”anti-drone guns”, UAV Navigation has already tested its autopilot against a third party system shows that it was able to detect the interferences and continue operating without any major issues. When facing attacks to radio links, the autopilot has shown its capabilities to operate independently. The FCC electronic design includes protected memories with advanced internal algorithms allowing the control of failures or memory corruptions. Additionally, the system affords the use of encrypted radios and uses an internal architecture and interface privately owned by the company in order to increase flight safety against external attacks. This makes the system capable to fly and continue the flight plan even if the data links are unstable or have been disabled. In this sense, the ground control station software allows visualization of the link real-time status and automatically activates SAFE mode or alternative actions if the datalink has been attacked.

In case of electromagnetic nature attacks, UAV Navigation has worked in making the system resistant to EMI/EMC, being certified by MIL-STD 461.

Last but not least, in the case of hacking attacks, UAV Navigation’s system counts on different techniques that ensure there is no external and unauthorized intrusion protecting the source code against modifications. The most relevant example of these protection methods are the encryption mechanisms.

The use of Electronic Warfare techniques is growing so having a reliable flight control solution ready to face new generation attacks has become vitally important. UAV Navigation has foreseen the evolution of customer needs and developed different features and tested the system to create a robust system ready to work at hard environments.

Contact us to rely on a system ready for electronic warfare.

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UAV Navigation is a privately-owned company that has specialized in the design of flight control solutions for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) since 2004. It is used by a variety of Tier 1 aerospace manufacturers in a wide range of UAV - also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or 'drones'. These include high-performance tactical unmanned planes, aerial targets, mini-UAVs and helicopters.