Small Wars Journal

Modern counter-drone technologies: a Lithuanian case study

Sun, 02/05/2023 - 8:59pm

Modern counter-drone technologies: a Lithuanian case study

By Donatas Palavenis


More and more advanced UAVs with increasingly complex navigation systems, capable of transporting large loads, are found every day, which allows expanding the functionality of UAVs. UAVs are widely distributed all over the world and are intensively used in different fields including security. They are easily available and can be easily upgraded. Therefore, it is not surprising that C-UAV is becoming more and more relevant in order to protect against UAVs. The war in Ukraine also highlighted the importance of UAVs, and at the same time the necessity of C-UAV systems. During the war, UAVs are often used for intelligence gathering, fire adjustment, data transmission, electronic warfare, and the kinetic destruction of targets.

It is noteworthy that current C-UAV systems are not very reliable against military UAVs, suicide UAVs, and UAVs using artificial intelligence. Currently, C-UAV systems are one step behind UAVs, but in the future, this gap will decrease due to the use of more efficient methods of evidence-gathering and technical analysis.

How do modern C-UAV systems work?

In general, C-UAV systems consist of several components. First of all, the system consists of several sensors, for example electro-optical, thermal, acoustic, radio frequency, and radar, the information received from which are combined in order to increase the probability of detecting and identifying UAVs. C-UAV systems have a management and leadership component, a component of kinetic and non-kinetic impact measures (effectors), and a subsystem of the necessary interfaces that ensures data exchange and continuous operation of the entire system. C-UAV systems also include sets of tools and subsystems that allow recording information and analyzing it later.

Falcon Shield | Leonardo in the UK

Leonardo's C-UAV solution Falcon Shield is used in the UK and Italy

(picture from:

The following types of sensors are commonly used in C-UAV systems:

• Acoustic/Ultrasonic Sensors – detect UAVs by recognizing the unique sounds their engines make.

• Electro-optical sensors – identify and track UAVs based on their visual representation.

• Infrared Sensors – identify and track UAVs based on their heat signal including low-light conditions, such as at night or under heavy cloud cover.

• Radar – detects UAV based on a unique radar signature, which is produced when the UAV collides with the radio frequency pulses emitted by the emitting element. The radar additionally uses algorithms aimed at distinguishing UAV from other small, low-flying objects, e.g. birds

• Radio frequency sensors - detect electromagnetic signals in the environment and search for UAVs or their operators emitting specific signals.

• LiDAR – similar to radar, LiDAR detects UAVs based on signals returning from reflected UAVs. Unlike radar, LiDAR uses a different type of frequency.

Effectors used in C-UAV systems:

• Radio frequency jamming – the radio frequency communication between the UAV and its operator is disrupted.

• Disturbance of the global navigation system – the signal received by the UAV from the satellite used for navigation is disturbed.

• Spoof - allows control or redirect of a UAV by giving it a fake connection or navigation link.

• Dazzling – using a high-intensity light beam or laser "dazzles" the UAV camera.

• Use of a laser – by using directed energy, important segments or sensors of the UAV body are affected.

• Use of high power microwaves – directs a pulse of high-intensity microwave energy to the UAV thereby disabling the UAV's electronic systems.

• Using nets - designed to physically entangle the UAV and its rotors.

• Using ammunition of various calibers and modifications.

• Using guided missiles.

• Colliding UAV – a specially designed UAV to collide with an opponent's UAV.

Global trends and competencies of Lithuanian manufacturers

The global market of C-UAV systems is dominated by manufacturers from forty countries, which are located in the USA (occupying 33% of the C-UAV market), the UK (10%), and Israel (7%). More than half of the C-UAVs produced use passive sensors, and the systems are almost always designed to operate from the ground. It is noteworthy that half of the systems use two or more types of sensors. 40% of the C-UAV systems use radars, 40% - electro-optical and infrared sensors, and 13% C-UAV use acoustic sensors to detect the opponent UAV. As for the use of effectors in C-UAVs, the most popular are non-kinetic effectors (71%), of which radio frequency (51%) or global navigation system (31%) jammers are most often used. Only 11% of all C-UAVs rely on kinetic impact effectors, while 7% of C-UAVs are using colliding UAVs. It should be noted that some C-UAV or sensor solutions offered on the market have not yet reached the necessary level of technological development to fully protect against the contemporary UAV threat.

US companies produce mobile and deployable C-UAV systems that have an installed electronic warfare system and kinetic effectors (30 mm cannon and Coyote Block2 missile)

(pictures from:;

Lithuanian manufacturers are also active in the C-UAV market and can offer individual and integrated solutions. The most well-known is JSC "NT Service", which manufactures portable effectors that interfere with radio frequencies, "EDM4S", and can offer stationary systems operating within a radius of up to 10 km, as well as mobile solutions. In the solutions offered by "NT Service", UAV is determined using radar, electro-optical, and radio frequency sensors. Research in this field is also carried out by the Baltic Institute of Advanced Technologies together with partners participating in the EU Defense Fund project "Joint European System for Countering Unmanned Aerial Systems" (JEY-CUAS). This project aims to improve existing technologies at the subsystem and system level, which would be combined using TSI's modular architecture. Researchers and employees of the Baltic Institute of Advanced Technologies are developing an artificial intelligence-based solution that will allow the detection of UAVs using synthesized data deriving from electro-optical sensors and radars specialized for UAV detection, and capable to distinguish UAV objects from other extraneous objects.