Threats from and Countermeasures for Unmanned Aerial and Underwater Vehicles
2. Current and Future UAVs
2.1. Structure, Flight Characteristics, and Capabilities of Current UAVs
2.2. Expected Structure and Flight Characteristics of the Future UAVs
2.3. Expected Radio and Sensing Capabilities of Future UAVs
3. Challenges and Threats from Malicious UAVs
3.1. Challenging Features of UAVs
3.2. Autonomous UAVs
3.3. UAV Swarms
- Each UAV in the swarm can be assigned a specific task , (e.g., EO/IR imaging, ECM, RF sensing). Moreover, if the payload is large, then it can be divided into modules and carried separately by individual UAVs in the swarm and can be combined during the flight when required.
- In a UAV swarm, each UAV can either fly autonomously  following a pre-planned trajectory or cognitively adopt a trajectory  based on the real-time scenario using on-board sensors. AI algorithms can be used by each UAV in the swarm to coordinate with each other and/or the central controller. The central controller can be on the ground, a UAV in the swarm, or a manned aerial vehicle.
- UAV swarms can adopt different shapes in the air  and can be equipped with the ability to integrate and disintegrate in the air when required.
- UAV swarms can be used as airborne assets that can provide better situational awareness .
- A swarm of UAVs in the air can also be used to create an antenna array . Each UAV can carry an antenna element. The antenna array and subsequently the radiation pattern can be reconfigured by changing the position of the UAVs.
- Miniaturized UAVs that have dimensions of a few inches can also be used in swarms . The miniaturized UAVs in a swarm can work similarly to honey bees. There is a small effect of the environment on the flight of miniaturized UAVs (e.g., wind gusts). Miniaturized UAVs can also integrate to form large devices in the air in real time (e.g., to display patterns or to form a mobile phased array antenna in the air).
3.4. Electronic Countermeasures
- The RF link between the UAV and the remote controller is vulnerable to jamming  and hacking . The jamming can be avoided by spread-spectrum techniques and high frequency-hopping rates. The hacking attempts can be thwarted by using multi-layered authentication and encryption. The threat of jamming and hacking can also be reduced by using redundant RF links.
- RF cognitive techniques can be used to analyze the energy distribution and hopping patterns of the RF jammer . The analysis can help to adjust the RF parameters onboard the UAV accordingly to avoid jamming.
- GPS spoofing can be eliminated by identifying the spoofed GPS signals . The comparison of signals from multiple navigation references (both internal and external) can help to identify the spoofed GPS signal.
- To save UAV onboard electronic equipment from high-energy electromagnetic (EM) radiation burst, metallic shielding can be used. Metallic and lead shielding can offer protection for the onboard electronic equipment against the EM radiation burst.
3.5. Types of Threats from Malicious UAVs
- Hazardous payloads that can be carried by mischievous UAVs for long distances.
- Surveillance and intelligence gathering by malicious UAVs (e.g., UAVs can be used to gather information near sensitive locations like police stations, borders, etc.).
- Illegal activities using UAVs. Numerous activities can be carried out by using mischievous UAVs (eavesdropping, stealing personal data, unauthorized imaging, identity theft, and starting a fire, etc.).
- Threats to governmental authorities, vehicles, and infrastructure. In particular, malicious UAVs can present a significant threat to sensitive infrastructure (e.g., nuclear power plants and chemical plants).
- Threats to crowded areas.
- Threats to the civil aviation industry. In the recent past, there were many reported incidents of mischievous UAVs interfering with the civilian flight operations .
- UAV swarms. At present, the threat of UAV swarms is difficult to counter.
- Unauthorized control of UAVs while flying. Hacking UAVs and flying them for malicious purposes.
4. Radar Systems for UAV Detection, Tracking, and Classification
4.1. Conventional and Advanced Radar Systems
4.2. Detection of UAVs Using Radar Systems
4.3. Tracking of UAVs Using Radar Systems
4.4. Classification of UAVs Using Radar Systems
4.5. Limitations of Radar Systems
- Radar systems are generally inefficient in terms of the energy transmitted and received. A large amount of transmit energy is required for the detection of small UAVs.
- Active radar systems have the risk of detection due to energy emission.
- There are limitations of the radar systems for detecting, tracking, and classifying small, low-flying UAVs in cluttered scenarios .
- The detection of small RCS aerial vehicles (e.g., UAVs) requires careful calibration of the radar system and constant adjustment of the detection threshold. The pfa for small-RCS aerial vehicles in cluttered environments generally increases .
- A large swarm of UAVs can overwhelm the majority of radar systems. The individual UAVs in a swarm are difficult to track by radar systems. Range and Doppler ambiguities are expected to increase for a given radar system detecting a large swarm of UAVs.
- Offensive ECMs used by UAVs can jam and spoof radar systems.
5. Methods Other Than Radar Systems for UAV Detection, Tracking, and Classification
5.2. RF Analysis
5.3. Acoustic Analysis
5.4. Sensor Fusion
5.5. Current Methods for Disabling UAVs
6. Future Research Directions for UAV utilization and their Detection, Tracking, and Classification
6.1. Potential Uses of UAVs
6.2. Modern Radar Systems
6.3. AI Techniques
6.4. Laser Beams
6.5. Space and Airborne Assets
6.6. Distributed Sensors
6.7. Countering UAV Swarms
6.8. Regulating UAV Traffic
6.9. Terrain-Specific Countermeasures
7. Unmanned Underwater Vehicles
7.1. Capabilities of Current and Future Unmanned Underwater Vehicles
7.2. Challenges and Threats from Malicious UUVs
- Threat of unauthorized surveillance using malicious UUVs . For example, UUVs can move close to coastal areas comparatively easily compared to manned underwater vehicles. While near the coastal areas, the UUVs can eavesdrop on the surroundings. Similarly, mischievous UUVs can be used to gather surveillance information while at sea by attaching to a large ship as a parasite.
- Threat of unauthorized smuggling using malicious UUVs . Malicious UUVs can be used to carry contraband items undersea without detection.
- Threat of spoofing and jamming using mischievous UUVs. Malicious UUVs can be used to produce spoofed GPS signals that can divert ships. Malicious UUVs can also be used to hack/deny information between ships or between ship and air/ground transceivers.
7.3. Detection, Tracking, and Classification Using Active Sonar and Passive Sonar
7.4. Future UUV Uses and Directions for Countering Malicious UUVs
- High-resolution underwater mapping of the seafloor, sea condition monitoring in a given area, and predicting turbulence and other unexpected changes in the water, similar to a weather forecast.
- Monitoring of marine flora and fauna.
- Navigation system similar to GPS using UUVs underwater.
- UUVs can be used for search and rescue and to help in disaster management. UUVs can also be used by law enforcement departments at sea.
- UUVs on the sea surface can provide radio beacons that can assist in long-distance communications in case the satellite link is down/not available. The radio beacons from UUVs can ensure that the ships move in designated lines and avoid collision.
- An underwater network of sensor nodes using UUVs can be created that can assist in different remote sensing applications.
- Monitoring and maintenance of underwater infrastructure, such as oil rigs and underwater oil and gas pipelines, power generation stations at sea, and optical fiber.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|UAV Name||Category||Powered by and Sensors Installed||Functionalities||Maximum Payload, Speed, Flight Altitude and Duration|
|Malat Mosquito||Micro/nano, fixed-wing||Battery, camera, EO sensor||Surveillance and reconnaissance||0.25 kg, 13 m/s, 0.15 km, 1 h|
|Aurora Skate||Micro/nano, fixed-wing||Articulating motor pods, camera, EO/IR sensors||Surveillance and reconnaissance, tracking objects||0.2 kg, 25 m/s, 4.3 km, 1 h|
|CyberQuad mini||Micro/nano, multi-rotor||Battery, camera, and multiple sensors for detecting gases and pollutants||Urban aerial reconnaissance, detection of gases, industrial and other pollutants||1.5 kg, 18 m/s, -, 0.67 h|
|RQ-11 Raven||Small/mini, fixed-wing||Battery, camera, infrared sensor, miscellaneous sensors||Surveillance, mapping, imaging and object detection and classification||0.2 kg, 22.5 m/s, 4.2 km, 1.5 h|
|Matrice-600||Small/mini, multi-rotor||Battery, camera, intelligent batteries||Imaging and surveillance, high data rate live streaming||6 kg, 18 m/s, 2.5 km, 0.67 h|
|SkyEye Sierra VTOL||Small/mini, fixed-wing and multi-rotor||Battery/petrol engine, camera, surveying and surveillance equipment, multiple sensors||Imaging, mapping, inspection, and surveillance, and other sensing applications||3 kg, 30 m/s, 3 km, 5 h|
|Watchkeeper||Medium, fixed-wing||Rotary Wankel engine, camera, EO/IR sensor, motion filter||Imaging, surveillance and reconnaissance||150 kg, 40 m/s, 4.9 km, 14 h|
|Eagle Eye, Bell HV-911||Medium, tiltrotor||Turboshaft engine, camera, surveillance sensors, rescue equipment||Search and rescue, surveillance, reconnaissance (mainly at sea)||90 kg, 103 m/s, 6 km, 5.5 h|
|Skyeye-R4E||Medium, fixed-wing||Twin rotor rotary engine, camera, surveillance and miscellaneous sensors||Imaging, surveillance, pesticide spraying, border patrols||82 kg, 55 m/s, 4.6 km, 8 h|
|Global Hawk||Large, fixed-wing||Turbofan engine, camera, EO/IR sensors, laser and radar warning receivers, ECM equipment, MTI system||Long endurance and high-altitude and wide area ground/sea surveillance and reconnaissance, communications||1400 kg, 175 m/s, 18 km, 33 h|
|Zephyr 8||Large, fixed-wing||Solar-powered, Amprius lithium-ion batteries, communication systems||Airborne communications: as a mobile communication relay||5 kg, 9.5 m/s, 21.3 km, 26 days|
|Serial #||Current UAV Features and Capabilities||Future UAV Features and Capabilities|
|1||Multi-rotor or fixed-wing||Hybrid of multi-rotor and fixed-wing, variable wing geometry|
|2||Aerial flying||Aerial, over- and underwater, and on-ground maneuvering|
|3||Propeller propulsion||Jet engine propulsion in addition to propeller propulsion|
|4||Battery and fossil fuel||Solar, synthetic, hydrogen fuel, and battery charging while flying|
|5||Small and medium payloads||Large, multi-purpose payloads|
|6||Limited maneuverability for fixed-wing UAVs||High maneuverability for fixed-wing UAVs|
|7||Cost varies, and dependent on the size of UAV||Reduction in price of different sizes of UAVs|
|8||Flight duration dependent on the payload||Long flight duration, and less dependent on the payload|
|9||Weather and light affects performance||All weather, day and night high performance|
|10||Small to medium RCS||Very small RCS|
|11||Limited and vulnerable communication links||Redundant and secured communication links|
|12||Semi-autonomous operations||Fully autonomous and AI-controlled options available|
|13||Limited ECM capabilities||Enhanced ECM capabilities|
|Current Countermeasures Cgainst UAVs||Future Cirections of Countermeasures against UAVs|
|Sr. #||UUAV Name||Powered by and Sensors Installed||Dimensions, Endurance and Depth|
|1||MBARI’s Dorado-class||Battery, 200 kHz multibeam sonar, 100 kHz and 410 kHz chirp sidescan sonars||0.5 m diameter, 6.4 m length, 20 h endurance, 6 km depth|
|2||Sentry||Battery, conductivity, temperature and depth sensors, digital camera, reodx potential probe||1.8 m height, 2.2 m width, 2.9 m length, 24 h endurance, 6 km depth|
|3||Qianlong-1||Battery, camera, obstacle avoidance sonar, side-scan sonar||0.8 m diameter, 4.6 m length, 24 h endurance, 6 km depth|
|4||SeaBED Class||Battery, Imagenex Delta-T imaging sonar, camera||2 m length, 1.5 m height, 1.2 m width, 24 h endurance, depth 5 km|
|5||Urashima (hybrid)||Battery, multi-beam echo sounder, Niskin water sampler, interferometric synthetic aperture sonar, gravimeter system||1.3 m width, 10 m length, 24 h endurance, depth 3.5 km|
|6||Aster x/Idef x||Battery, multi-beam echo sounders, multiple sensors, sub-bottom profilers, spectrometers||0.7 m diameter, 4.5 m length, 16 h endurance, depth 3 km|
|7||BlueROV2||Battery, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, pressure/depth and temperature sensor||457 mm × 338 mm × 254 mm, 4.5 m, 4 h endurance, depth 300 m|
|1||3–30 Hz, ELF band||Underwater communications and pinging|
|2||30–300 Hz, super low frequency (SLF) band||Underwater submarine communications|
|3||300 Hz–3 kHz, ultra low frequency (ULF) band||Underwater communications through dirt and rocks|
|4||3 kHz–30 kHz, very low frequency (VLF) band||Near-sea-surface communications, navigation beacons|
|5||30 kHz–300 kHz, low frequency (LF) band||Near-sea-surface communications, navigation beacons|
|6||3 kHz–30 kHz, VLF band||Near sea surface communications, navigation beacons|
|7||Less than 1 kHz, 1 kHz–10 kHz, greater than 10 kHz, and less than 30 kHz||Active sonar operation|
|8||50 kHz, 120 kHz, 200 kHz, and 455 kHz||Sport fishing|
|9||120 kHz, and 200 kHz||Sea floor imaging using deep towed sonar, and swath phase-bathymetric mapping|
|10||100 kHz–1 MHz||Side-scan sonar|
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Khawaja, W.; Semkin, V.; Ratyal, N.I.; Yaqoob, Q.; Gul, J.; Guvenc, I. Threats from and Countermeasures for Unmanned Aerial and Underwater Vehicles. Sensors 2022, 22, 3896. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22103896
Khawaja W, Semkin V, Ratyal NI, Yaqoob Q, Gul J, Guvenc I. Threats from and Countermeasures for Unmanned Aerial and Underwater Vehicles. Sensors. 2022; 22(10):3896. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22103896Chicago/Turabian Style
Khawaja, Wahab, Vasilii Semkin, Naeem Iqbal Ratyal, Qasim Yaqoob, Jibran Gul, and Ismail Guvenc. 2022. "Threats from and Countermeasures for Unmanned Aerial and Underwater Vehicles" Sensors 22, no. 10: 3896. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22103896