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Activity title

Low Slow Small Threats Modelling and Simulation

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NATO Modelling and Simulation Group

Security Classification




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Autonomy, CUAV, flight profiles, LSS, Modelling, MSG, signature, Simulation, UAV


Recent World events have highlighted that the rapid proliferation of Low, Slow and Small (LSS) platforms is bringing with it a new and rapidly increasing threat for national defence and security agencies. Whilst many of the reported LSS incidents seem to indicate that there was no malicious intent behind the incident, it is not unreasonable to assume that it may not be long before LSS platforms are being employed regularly by terrorists or other criminal organisations. The flight characteristics of many of these mini and micro platforms present challenges to current ground based systems and infrastructures. In order to develop and deploy appropriate defensive measures to counter future LSS threats, nations and NATO are embarking on a series of programmes to identify cost effective measures for the detection, classification, tracking and neutralisation of any potential LSS threats. In the future, defence planners must consider plausible LSS attack missions and flight profiles that could be transferred from a national military to a terrorist organization, particularly, those that can be operated by a small number of people and do not require a large support infrastructure. LSS systems are becoming increasingly capable and more readily available. Some types of LSSs are available for “off-the-shelf” procurement and systems with limited capabilities, such as those technologies employed by the hobbyist-driven markets for model aircraft, have long been widely available at a relatively low cost. However, systems with larger payload capacities and improved capabilities are now becoming more readily available. Recently LSS technology has proliferated and matured in the civilian/commercial sector leading to wide commercial and leisure use of LSS platforms. In addition to the demonstrated military application of UAV platforms, the employment of small and possibly modified commercial off-the-shelf UAVs by non-state or terrorist organizations poses a real and significant threat to high profile domestic and international events. To date, the emphasis has been on the use of LSS class of UAVs in an ISR mode, but attack modes e.g. in the form of flying IEDs are very possible. The rapid evolution and worldwide spread of the technology, coupled with the ease in purchasing the platforms off-the-shelf, has made NATO defence against the LSS threat of real concern. LSS aerial platforms are now recognised as posing a significant threat to NATO member nations and also to deployed coalition forces. The primary LSS threat come from three classes of UAV - Micro, Mini and Small. The variety of unmanned vehicles/system shapes, sizes and capabilities reflects the diversity of the missions they are designed for or capable to perform. Their use was initially conceived for reconnaissance and surveillance operations, but slowly their use is becoming focussed more and more on offensive and combat operations. Many experts consider that the small and mini drones have the greatest potential to impact national security and privacy, because they can be easily acquired, transported anytime and anywhere and can be almost undetectable when they fly due to having a very low signature. Small and mini drones are already a military operational reality but micro-drones are increasingly being used with their unique features. As technology continues to advance, it will become easier and less expensive to build ever smaller drones


The aim of the Task Group is to take into account the variety of the commercial available LSS aerial vehicles (hereinafter “LSS”), commonly identified as “drones”, in order to define LSS models from different points of view in order to make the models available for being utilised for analysis and design aspects applied to Counter LSS (C-LSS) systems, both from detection and neutralisation points of view. The LSS can be modelled with respect to: • the behaviour during the fly, describing the related flight profile, including the available manoeuvres and the meteorological conditions (wind, rain, etc.) impact on them. This because the commercial drones are able to fly in open space without any constraints and their small size and the light weight make them easy to manoeuvre and easily affected by the environmental conditions; • the signature against different type of detectors since it has been asserted the need of a multiple sensors to have the capability, and the probability, to detect such small objects. Aa above, the environmental conditions (day, night, fog, rain, etc.) could change considerably the detection capability; • the threat itself, in order to model suspicious behaviours which could help the identification as foe object; • the defence tactics to be simulated for a proper neutralisation of the threats. The study results could be exploited by other C-LSS studies within NATO


• LSS categorization in order to summarise the variety of aerial systems available on the market with respect to different characteristics and parameters • LSS physical modelling: o Flight Profile o kinematics affected by wind and other meteorological effects • LSS detectability modelling: o signature (radar, acoustic, thermal, etc.) o visibility in different conditions (day, night, fog, etc.) and environment (open space, urban, etc.) • LSS intelligence modelling: o suspicious manoeuvring o hazards payloads • Tactics modelling: o Rules Of Engagement

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