Taking drones down with so-called “soft measures” has so far been the fruit of most efforts to counter enemy UAVs. From using Picatinny rail mounted devices to interfere with signals to the enemy UAV, to using 40x53mm ammunition fired out of an automatic grenade launcher. An Israeli company called General Robotics has proposed a solution using conventional 7.62x51mm NATO M240s or 5.56x45mm NATO MGs in a Remote Weapon System setup. Essentially there isn’t anything new about what General Robotics is doing, really just applying existing technology to counter a new threat. The existing technology is their PITBULL remote weapons system turret that has been on the Military/LE market for at least a year. Below is a Youtube promotional video of the system.
General Robotics is changing the direction of their product to 1) detect incoming UAVs from kilometers away, 2) attempt a “soft-approach” to interfering with the signal of the UAV to the home base, if this doesn’t work, then the remote weapon system will 3) attempt to shoot it down with whatever machine gun is outfitted with it. The company calls this new product, the PITBULL ULRWS, or PITBULL Ultra Light Remote Weapon Station.
How the engagement is worked out, isn’t written about in the available articles online about the PITBULL ULRWS. What makes the system differentiate between a low flying civilian passenger craft and an enemy drone isn’t known. However, whether or not the system can actually be effective isn’t known yet. The U.S. Navy appears to have run some tests from NSWC Crane out at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, using “Kinetic Defeat” to mean live fire–
3. Counter UAS (C‐UAS) a. Camp Atterbury scenario for kinetic defeat of Class 1 and Class 2 UAS is being developed. The range is capable of fires at a distance up to 3.2 kilometers.
Although at first glance the idea seems like a good one, there would appear to be a number of obstacles to it. Taking the M240 GPMG as an example, the maximum effective range is between 1,100 to 1,800 meters (depending on what manual you read). The commercial drones that the so-called Islamic State uses hover at several hundred meters at the low end, and possibly hundreds more at the high end. Within the effective range? Possibly, but if they are moving, and the 7.62x51mm NATO rounds are arching straight up into the air, then the feasibility of actually hitting one that is moving becomes slimmer. But it must also be stated that these “effective ranges” of the M240 aren’t in relation to a point target that a drone would be (even a point target are the dimensions of a military-aged male). Machine guns engage area targets, not point targets. Essentially what it comes down to, is if the company can get a 7.62x51mm NATO or even a 5.56x45mm NATO machine gun with a comparatively low cyclic rate to take down a fast moving drone, power to them, but so far it would appear that the odds are against them.