The French Agency for Defense Innovation (AID) is leading the charge in advancing drone technology through its ASSYDUS project (Autonomous Decoy System Using UAV Swarms).
Collaborating with Thales DMS France SAS and the Research Laboratory for Computer Sciences Bordelais (LaBRI), the project aims to deploy drones in a swarm formation to deceive radar systems.
The primary objective is to make the swarm of drones appear on radar as a single entity, resembling an aircraft or combat drone. This tactic is designed to confuse potential opponents' anti-aircraft defense systems. AID highlighted the significant expansion of aerial capabilities when multiple drones work together in a swarm, presenting themselves as a unified entity akin to an airplane. The autonomous decision-making capabilities of the swarm contribute to this effect.
Extensive research on autonomous multi-rotor drones has yielded promising early results. The teams involved successfully achieved the desired Radar Cross Section (RCS) and simulated the RCS produced by a swarm, accounting for drone types and positions.
Flight trials were conducted to test the entire process in real-time, validating the anticipated results. One potential application of ASSYDUS is to dispatch drones individually toward an air defense system and then cluster them to emulate the RCS of a fighter bomber.
This initiative echoes a 2020 project by the Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) of the Royal Air Force (RAF). In that experiment, a squadron of drones, some equipped with BriteCloud electronic warfare modules, was maneuvered to deceive and overload radars mimicking an adversarial air defense system. The BriteCloud system is a Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) device that captures, modifies, and disseminates radio signals to disrupt radar information.