Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Killer Drones to Get Sound System

Via Wired (Danger Room) -

Your Predator drone has all the latest gear, including communications, laser target designator, day and night cameras and, of course, Hellfire missiles. But, according to Special Operations Command, it still needs that essential finishing touch: the latest sound system. They are setting out to correct this, providing speakers not just for drones but also for plenty of other applications, in a new high-tech loudspeaker program.

Loudspeakers are already used for psychological warfare operations (psyops) in Iraq and elsewhere, but the current Family of Loudspeakers is looking a bit old, having been designed in the 90’s. So SOCOM is looking for a Next Generation Loudspeaker System (NGLS) “which will consist of seven variants: manpack; ground vehicle/watercraft; unmanned air vehicle; unmanned ground vehicle; scatterable media long duration; scatterable media short duration; and sonic projection (focused sound).”

The manpack and vehicle speakers will be a direct replacement for existing systems, but the unmanned and scatterable versions will be a new capability, especially as they are intended to be “interconnected using secure wireless technology to form sets of loudspeakers that provide high quality recorded audio, live dissemination, and acoustic deception capability.”

A set of scattered, networked speakers could certainly create some confusing sound effects. It could create the impression of a patrol or a vehicle moving around, surrounding the enemy with phantoms while masking the presence of real forces.

Special Forces have already had good results using focused sound in the form of the long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). The unofficial PsyWarrior site reports that LRAD could be clearly heard at 1,400 meters, and it proved a handy way of communicating with the locals. “Iraqis were seen writing down the counter-terrorism tip-line number at over 600 meters range.”

It also has its uses in operations, not only for clearing civilians from streets and rooftops during operations and issuing instructions, but also for “drawing out enemy snipers who are subsequently destroyed by our own snipers.”

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