The threat posed by Russian kamikaze drones, specifically the “Lancet” type, remains a significant challenge to counter. Traditional anti-aircraft systems have proven to be ineffective, and alternative solutions like “microwave” Leonidas and laser systems of the Alka type are still in the early development stages. Furthermore, measures like nets and gratings cannot guarantee protection against the potent cumulative warhead of a KZ-6 engineering charge.
In light of these difficulties, exploring alternative approaches to address this threat is essential. While active defense systems like Trophy can theoretically be adapted to tackle kamikaze drones, their high cost makes them less practical for countering this specific threat.
One promising avenue worth considering is the use of anti-helicopter mines, which were developed in the USA in the 1970s as autonomous anti-aircraft missiles under the SIAM project. The Bulgarian Institute of Metal Sciences and the Austrian Hirtenberger also made advancements in this field during the 1990s.
The AHM-200 Series of Mines
The Bulgarian AHM-200 series of mines utilizes an acoustic sensor to detect the sound of the drone’s rotor. Once the target enters the affected zone, a relatively simple radar system activates the warhead, which consists of a “shock core” element. The AHM-200-1 version features one striking element, while the AHM-200-2 incorporates several multidirectional ones to compensate for low accuracy. The 4AHM-200-100 system takes a more advanced approach, with multiple charges and one station to protect a wider area.
The Austrian Helker
A similar development by Austria’s Hirtenberger, Helker, combines acoustic and infrared sensors. By combining sound and heat signatures, the mine’s warhead is triggered, delivering a directed fragmentation effect with a damage radius of up to 150 meters and the ability to penetrate 2 mm steel. The fragments can reach a height of up to 500 meters.
Russian and Polish Developments
The Russian Federation also possesses anti-helicopter mines, including the PMV mine, possibly known as the “Boomerang.” It follows the Bulgarian concept, employing a shock core, and stands out with its ability to rotate the warhead 360 degrees and employ an acoustic and infrared system for activation. Similarly, the Polish IMZR-11 from WZU operates based on a similar principle.
Overcoming Challenges for Kamikaze Drone Defense
While these mines offer potential solutions, some challenges have limited their widespread adoption. The high cost of the mine due to the need for precision and concerns about potential risks to friendly helicopters in the vicinity have been key factors. However, the changing landscape of warfare with the advent of kamikaze drones necessitates reconsidering these developments with appropriate modifications.
To effectively counter kamikaze drones, the system should be affordable, easily assembled, and quickly deployable. The Bulgarian 4AHM-200-100 concept stands out in this regard, as its cost-effectiveness is bolstered by the fact that crucial components like sensors and the control unit remain operational even after activation.
The Quest for an Effective Sensor
The primary challenge lies in finding a sensor capable of accurately identifying kamikaze drones and activating the combat element. A television system could be employed to monitor the relevant sector, automatically recognizing a drone and triggering detonation when the target enters the affected area. Contour recognition systems offer a promising avenue for these tasks. Manual detonation may also be an option, requiring dedicated observers to ensure precision.
Ensuring Safety and Efficiency
One advantage of anti-helicopter mines is that the affected area is directed upwards, ensuring safety for nearby personnel. Nevertheless, the installation site must remain inaccessible to personnel for added protection.
In conclusion, the use of anti-helicopter mines presents a potential defense solution against kamikaze drones like the “Lancet.” Although challenges exist, with appropriate modifications and advances in sensor technology, these mines could offer an effective and cost-efficient way to protect critical assets and personnel from this emerging threat on the battlefield. As the landscape of warfare evolves, it is crucial to explore unconventional yet viable means to ensure the safety and security of military assets.