Radar technology is often taken for granted, and this is because they contain sensitive material. Drones are here to stay, so in the near future we will be seeing a lot more drones simply flying for diverse reasons and we need technology that can control and detect them be it for package delivery or public security. But there is also a use of drones for bad reasons like drug smuggling, for carrying explosives or radioactive material and of course espionage.
So Can Drones be Detected by Radar? Yes, small drones and heavy-lifting drones can be detected by radar, if the radar is designed for it. Today drones are widespread and they are rapidly improving and with that they are posing new threats. All newer radars are equipped and have the ability to locate even the smallest drones in the air.
What is Radar?
The definition radar stands for detection system where it uses radio waves in purpose to determine the range, angle or velocity of some object. Things that radar is most commonly used is to detect aircraft, ships, missiles, weather etc.
For example if an airplane is flying at night and you can’t see it, nor the pilots can’t see where they’re going, they use the radar system for help and navigation. We have several types of radars. Echo radar emits a sound wave and then waits for the echo to come back to it’s receiver. By timing the returning echo, you can work out exactly where another object is. When using multiple receivers positioned at different angles it can determine the basic size of an object into the sound waves of found.
If we add an additional layer we move into Doppler radars. Doppler radars emit a radio wave too, but also keep track of the radio waves phase. Speed can be determined by the amount of shift that takes place in the radio wave. This technology is used every day by countries to break barriers professionally and personally.
How Radar Actually Works
When the radar wants something to detected, it needs the same basic set of components: something to generate radio waves, something to send them out into space, and then is using something to recive radio waves.
There is also one thing that is caled magnetron; this device uses radio waves from radar. In addition to that you must understand that radio waves are very similar to light waves becouse they can trave at the same speed but in much lower frequencies. The powerful side about magnetron is that he can send radio waves for many miles instead of just a few inches which makes him a very powerful.
The antenna is working like a transmitter when the radio waves have been generated. The radio waves travel outward from the antenna at the speed of light and keep going until they hit something. Interesting thing is that some of the radio waves are reflecting to the antenna at the speed of light, and antenna is doubles up as a radar receiver. The receiving equipment filters out useless reflections from the ground, and so on, displaying only significant reflections on the screen itself.
New Radar System For Drones
Today drones are widespread and they are rapidly improving and with that they are posing new threats. Therefore the governments is challenged the industry to provide solutions for detection and intervention of small drones. There are radar based systems that are able to detect and locate both fixed wing and rotorcraft UAVs (mini or small) and larger drones. Radar provides full coverage, day or night, as well as in adverse environmental conditions including dust, rain, snow and fog.
Whit this radar you can detect targets down to 0.01m2 and the range up to 5km. New holographic radar do not scan an area like the traditional radars do, he they continuously floodlights a volume of space and with that they gather 3D position from all targets. This is a high-tech piece of radar. Conventional radar is like a torch, it sends out a beam and it can only see something when the beam is shining on that thing, otherwise it’s completely in the dark.
But this new radar is the equivalent of switching on the light and it sees everything all the time. If you are interested to learn more about radar technology and how radars work I recommend the book: Principles of Modern Radar: Basic Principles from Amazon.
Related Article: Can Radars Detect Small Drones?
Can Small Drones Be Detected By Radar?
A question that is often asked when we talk about protection is „can a radar detected small drones? There was an incident that happened at White House ground when a federal worker crashed his drone at the ground in white house. The thing that was interesting is the White House air defense system didn’t detect that drone.
Although this person didn’t have bad intentions, but that just pointed out if this doesn’t fix, someday someone will have bad intention. A lot of people think that it is hard to detect small drones by radar, but that is not entirely true. It’s true that you cannot detect a small drone with ordinary radar, but there are radar systems that are capable of doing just that. What is the biggest challenge in all of this is telling the difference between a small drone from the birds that the radar will also detect.
Can Military Drones Be Detected By Radar?
Yes, there are radars that can detect everything what’s flying in the air, including military drones. Interesting thing is that using a radar for a very small size UAVs is very problematic; because it can very easy replace small UAVs with the small animals or birds. What is used today for commercial drones is the use of radio frequency and other downlink data.
Radar Usage As Anti-Drone Technology
For some time small drones have been used as weapons of war in Syria. Today, the terrorist threat is increasing and these things have to be taken seriously. A low cost of Drones today could easily be used for everything from spying and surveillance to actually delivering terror from the sky. Big attention is now turning to proactive defence systems and Anti-drone technology. Anti-Drone Technology or defense system allows neutralization or disabling any kind of Drones in the area. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) systems have been utilized by military forces for years. This Anti-Drone Technology systems play a vital role in the security of some countries and territories.
There is already a big choice on the market in this technology. It is possible to spot the drone targets from a range of 10km to 20km. Fortunately, until now, there have not been any major attacks organized by Drones. But as technology is developing more and more, the question is when a major incident will occur.
The Use of Radar As a Hacking Device for Drones
It’s 2019, and we live in an age of hackers. Drones are quickly becoming more popular and today almost every child wants it. So can drones be hacked? They can, and have been hacked. There are several ways drone can be hacked and some of them are simple while some are complicated. When we talk about hacking a drone, this is not just a theory and there were already cases where the high-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) increasingly employed by military forces were hacked.
Drone’s GPS receiver is one of the biggest weaknesses in today’s drones. What the Iranian military did in 2011 over a U.S. drone flying over their territory is that they were able to disrupt the signal and land that drone in their territory. They did so by interfering with the frequency at which the drone was mounted via GPS. For those who want to know more, read: How Can Drones Be Hacked article.