Australian company EOS develops anti-drone hard and soft kill solution

At the heart of Titanis is an EOS ranged weapon station and sensors. Image: EOS

The history of armed conflict teaches us that technologies that are not necessarily new can have a remarkable impact when used differently or in combination with other systems. The first tanks were used in World War I and were quite effective – but it wasn’t until two decades later that their transformative abilities were exploited first by Germany, then by the USSR, and later by all the great powers.

Armed drones have been around for a while, likely starting with the IAI’s Harpy, which was first used in the 1980s. The name is a nod to an incessantly nagging partner – which is appropriate given that a harpy is loitering loudly out of sight, waiting for an enemy radar to be turned on, at which point they snap onto it and do a kamikaze mission with one explosive warhead. More recently, we’ve gotten used to Predator drones performing highly effective attacks on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism missions, usually using Hellfire missiles.

Now we can say with confidence that armed drones are having a dramatic impact on the future of high-intensity armed conflict, as demonstrated by the six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in late 2020. This was a classic, major conflict over the historically disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region with both sides with well-equipped and well-trained ground troops. It was a swift and overwhelming victory for Azerbaijan as the Armenian armed forces were completely demoralized and then put to flight for defying the numerous armed drones that were used against them – those supplied to Azerbaijan by Israel and Turkey – which quickly destroyed all enemies, had no possibility of anti-aircraft radars and well over 100 main battle tanks and numerous other vehicles.

At the heart of Titanis is an EOS ranged weapon station and sensors.  Image: EOSAt the heart of Titanis is an EOS ranged weapon station and sensors. Image: EOS

This one-sided conflict is a dire warning of what can happen to a conventionally armed force if it lacks significant anti-drone capabilities – and Canberra-based Electro Optic Systems will present its solution to this major threat to the land forces. Designed to be mounted on a vehicle such as an 8×8 boxer, it combines radar, ESM including a jammer and electro-optical sensors with a high power laser and weapon system that can defeat any Category 3 drone – weighing 600kg and less.

Drones of this size are used in large numbers around the world – and their use is expected to grow exponentially as they are capable of swarming attacks with a wide variety of payloads. This can range from conventional explosives to poison gas.

This development fits perfectly with EOS, which has already used several key technologies and now combines them in a system called Titanis. The company is a world leader in the manufacture of remote weapon stations and electro-optical sighting and location software that guarantees a high probability of death. EOS also builds high power lasers – and has strong relationships with companies like Northrop Grumman, who developed the ubiquitous Bushmaster line of chain pistols.

In addition, there were compact AESA radars from Rada – but the system is radar-independent and allows customers to optimize their solutions. For test purposes, the system is stored and transported in an ISO container; the next logical step is to test it on a vehicle.

Development began a year ago and has made rapid progress at a test site in Canberra to verify tracking algorithms and demonstrate sensor fusion capabilities against a variety of targets. The system will soon be relocated to a location in the NSW outback for laser and live shot demonstrations, which are an important part of the validation and verification activities before a fully proven product is deployed.

EOS program manager Matt Jones believes Titanis will be of interest to the Australian Army and has significant export potential, particularly to other Five Eyes countries.

The need for drone defense systems is undeniable, as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict shows. There are also similar attacks on Saudi oil refineries and ISIS quadcopters equipped with grenades against its enemies in Iraq and Syria.

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