Mission-Capable Energy Supply for Drone Defense Systems

Hybrid Systems with Intelligent Power Storage

PJF Military Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

The power supply is a critical challenge when it comes to the tactical use of high-energy weapons in drone defense. Conventional energy sources quickly reach their limits under peak loads and load changes. Hybrid systems with intelligent power storage systems – which VINCORION is developing at its site in Altenstadt, Germany – are an excellent solution.

In future deployment scenarios, airspace control will continue to be a factor critical to a mission’s success. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), whose capabilities are rapidly growing, are playing an increasingly important role in this context – whether for combat missions, surveillance and reconnaissance, or for logistical purposes. Conversely, this means that countermeasures to defend against UAVs are an integral part of future defense and security strategies.

ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo

A Wide Variety of Threat Scenarios

In this context, a threat isn’t only posed by highly sophisticated special drones, but also by swarms of numerous small and relatively inexpensive drones. These allow attackers to cause extensive damage with relatively low resources.
In the future, conventional, ammunition-based defense systems will no longer be effective in countering an increasingly asymmetric threat posed by drone attacks, especially if they are deployed as part of intelligent swarms. One factor that shouldn’t be underestimated in this respect is that the use of hundreds of rounds of expensive special ammunition or even defensive missiles is hardly an economically viable solution. From a security standpoint, one particularly critical aspect is that existing expensive conventional defense systems can be easily overrun, even with very limited financial and organizational resources. As a result, unforeseeable gaps in the defense of individuals and infrastructure may increasingly become apparent in the future.

On the other hand, high-energy weapons are considered to be particularly effective against all types of drone attacks if they bring their targets down by hitting them with an enormous amount of energy – such as via laser or other electromagnetic pulses, for example. A particular advantage of lasers is that the “deep magazine” concept provides a virtually unlimited and extremely cost-effective supply of ammunition. In order to achieve a mission-capable cadence during combat, sufficient energy for the pulse phases must be available.

If I were the enemy, I’d go on eBay and buy as many quadcopters for $200 to $300 as I could and keep them coming until we ran out of Patriot missiles.

General David Perkins, US Army

The Limits of Conventional Energy Sources

One critical yet often neglected challenge facing these systems, however, is precisely this mission-capable power supply. This is particularly true with respect to size, weight and ease of integration, their tactical transportability, the supply of materials and fuel, and their reliability.

The power requirements result from the defense systems’ mode of operation from a technical perspective – eliminating a drone requires an extremely high energy charge at certain points during firing. Measured by its effective power, a laser briefly consumes three times the amount of energy needed for the entire system. At the same time, however, it must be noted that the systems remain almost entirely in standby mode during their entire service life and thus consume significantly less power in base-load operation.

Conventional energy sources such as on-board alternators or auxiliary power units quickly reach their limits due to the high peak loads and rapid load changes and are at risk of malfunctioning. And even the power supply systems used in field camps and on ships are frequently unable to adequately meet the enormous power requirements, which also endangers critical primary or self-protection systems.

ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo

The Solution: Hybrid Systems with Intelligent Power Storage

VINCORION’s hybrid systems, which can be configured to meet the special demands of high-energy weapons, represent a promising solution for the future. The power systems consist of three components: a conventional alternator, a high-performance power storage unit, and an intelligent energy management system. This design makes it possible to provide the buffer needed to fire a pulsed-energy projectile with a minimal use of primary energy and a hybrid storage system designed for a realistic load profile, as well as the entire pulse phase within the required combat cadence.

Solutions that can be specially adapted to the respective defense system include, for example, the P2M2 portable power management module. The flexible system is capable of using all available energy sources. It can be connected to several storage modules and can be variably connected to a wide variety of output modules depending on the deployment scenario – including mobile high-energy weapons used in drone defense. Several P2M2 modules can also be interconnected, if required.

Customized Mechatronics Solutions – for over 60 Years

The development of this product is based on VINCORION’s technical expertise in the generation, management, and storage of power in civil and military applications. The Jenoptik Technology Group has consolidated its mechatronics expertise under the VINCORION brand since 2018, bringing together more than 60 years of successful company history.

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