Radio frequency and spectrum monitoring technology companies Enterprise Control Systems (ECS) and TCI exhibit their Blacktalon counter-drone system at this year’s Defence Service Asia Exhibition & Conference (DSA).
The companies are part of SPX Corporation and under the partnership, they produced a series of counter-UAS solutions. Blacktalon is designed to provide radio frequency (RF) drone detection, location, and defeat capabilities, to security agencies and defence organisations.
The solution incorporates radar and RF sensors for UAS detection, identification, location and tracking. It is also equipped with an electro-optical sensor for drone verification and video tracking, and a multi-channel RF inhibitor for drone defeat.
ESC business development director for RF data links Jackson White says: “The two organisations [ECS and TIC] are specialists in the RF domain, both working within the commercial and the military sector across all tiers.
“We bring together the RF detect of TCI, and the location and geolocation and all those capabilities, but also the defeat capabilities which we design and develop within enterprise control system.”
There are various versions of Blacktalon and White says it is best to think of it as an architecture.
“We start with our signal-intelligence (SIGINT) receivers, which, with our drone detect software can detect UAS within the RF spectrum as a simple solution,” he explains. “Then we can add our counter-UAS RF defeat solution, and then we deliver a very basic Blacktalon 1 RF detect and defeat solution for drones.”
Improved and upgraded versions of Blacktalon, based on customer requirements, can have additional detection capabilities with radar, RF detection layers and electro-optics for identification purposes. The identification process is essential.
Since the elimination of UAS is being done by RF, the same frequency certain communication and navigation devices use, identification is key to be able to only terminate the target device.
Blacktalon uses a software-defined RF to create very precise waveforms to counter the data link on a UAS. Frequencies generated are also spectrally clean, meaning no sidebands are created with the target waveforms.
Finally, RF generated by the Blacktalon is directional and does not emit waves at 360 degrees, but instead only in a particular direction.
White says: “These allow us to point the RF specifically in the correct direction and elevation of the UAS, it allows us to operate on a clean spectrum while allowing others to communicate in the facility as well.”
The solution’s capability is delivered through a system called technology readiness level 9 (TRL9) consisting of nine different steps, the last one being ‘operationally proven’.
“That is one of the benefits we have with the Blacktalon. SPX components have been deployed in operational theatres for a number of years now,” says White. “The third-party components that we bring in, we always make sure that they’re operationally proven and have been deployed. So, we’re not putting new experimental technology into the architecture,” he concludes.