Italian Air Force’s Counter-UAS Capability Carries Out First Operational Deployment To Qatar

Italian Air Force C-UAS Qatar
An Italian Air Force Riflemen with a C-UAS system in Qatar. (All images: Italian MOD)

The Italian Air Force anti-drone system was deployed to support the Qatari Armed Forces during a sport event.

From Nov. 23 to Dec. 20, 2021, the Italian Air Force deployed a Counter-Unmanned Aerial Anti-drone System (C-UAS) Task Group, to Qatar, to support the local armed forces during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 competition.

The Task Group, reported directly to the Italian National Contingent Command AIR (IT NCC Air)/Task Force Kuwait, supporting OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve), the multinational campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, as part of “Prima Parthica”, as the Italian Armed Forces operation is dubbed at national level.

The role of the C-UAS component, was to provide the defense against the threat posed by the so-called “mini and micro drones”, very small remotely piloted aircraft that can be deployed alone or in groups (making reaction by the air defense system more difficult) to fly over sensitive or forbidden areas such as military installations or events venues at low altitude. Small drones can also carry warheads and can be used to launch attacks on sensible targets and individuals.

The Italian Air Force ACUS system was deployed to protect the FIFA Arab Cup 2021.

In Qatar, the Italian Air Force deployed the fixed anti-drone system “ACUS” (AMI Counter UAS) together with portable jammer systems. Overall, about 30 military are employed in the Task Group, including Air Riflemen of the 16° Stormo (Wing) “Forces Protection” and operators of the Force Protection sector belonging to the 4th, 6th and 32nd Wings. While specific details of the ACUS system are not available, generally speaking, currently available counterdrone (C-UAS) systems provide early detection, analysis and identification, alerting and termination of the threatening drones by means of portable or highly mobile solutions (even though there are also C-UAS systems in fixed configuration). The drone is usually disabled by means of EW (Electronic Warfare), by disrupting multiple RF frequency bands simultaneously denying radio signals from the controller, making Live Video Feed and GPS signal unavailable to the remote operator.

Surveillance after dark.
The antennas of the ACUS system.

The IT NCC Air was established on Oct. 17, 2014. Currently commanded by Col. Antonio Vivolo, the unit ensures unified command and logistical support for the synergistic and coordinated use of the Italian Air Force assets deployed in support of OIR as well as the Italian Army SAMP/T deployed to Alì Al Salem, Kuwait, to enhance the defense of the Kuwaiti airspace and provide a security framework for the Italian and host nation’s contingents. The Italian Air Force fleet supporting OIR includes the Eurofighter Typhoon and Predator assets tasked with ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions and KC-767A tankers providing AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) support to the Coalition assets.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.