Weapons Systems Data

Introduction

The AutoNorms project maps the design, development, and operation of weapons systems with automated and autonomous features over time. This includes qualitative data catalogues of different types of existing weapons systems as researched by the AutoNorms team, such as air defence systems and loitering munitions.

The following text provides an introduction to our first data catalogue on air defence systems:

 

Autonomy and Automation in Air Defence Systems

Ingvild Bode & Tom Watts • February 2021 

This catalogue has been created in conjunction with the ‘Meaning-Less Human Control: Lessons from Air Defence Systems on Meaningful Human Control for the debate on AWS’ report published in February 2020 as a collaboration between Drone Wars UK and the University of Southern Denmark. It provides information on the system history, maximum system range, target type, system updates/variants and automated/autonomous features of twenty-eight air defence systems which have been operated by at least sixty states. 

This catalogue has been constructed using a range of open-source material. This includes: (1) press releases and marketing material from weapons manufacturers; (2) press releases and factsheets published by defence ministries; (3) technical and policy reports authored by researchers based at think tanks; (4) Media reports from reputable international news and defence outlets; and (5) other air defence system databases. All references are provided as URLs and were accessible online as of January 2nd 2021. Please note: when information about a system has been unavailable, we have listed it as NDA (No Data Available). 

In constructing this open-source catalogue, we have faced three methodological challenges worth briefly highlighting here: 

  • Many of the technical capabilities of air defence systems are not publicly available. Without having physically observed the testing and development of these systems, or been involved in their operation, we cannot be sure of their exact capabilities. 
  • Given the political sensitivities concerning the definition of autonomy, some of the open-source information which is available on the autonomous and automated features of air defence systems is vague and, at times, even contradictory. 
  • Whilst this catalogue has included information on the technical capabilities of air defence systems, this must be qualified by the uncertainty concerning the Rules of Engagement under which human agents use these systems. 

 A more detailed explanation of our case selection, catalogue index and research approach and limitations can be found in Section 3 of the accompanying report. 

Spotted an error? Contact Us! We have taken the decision to make this catalogue open-access so that, if any of the information included in this document is incorrect, we can update it accordingly. If you spot an error in this catalogue, and would like to inform us of it, we can be reached at watts@sam.sdu.dk 

FundingResearch for this data catalogue was supported by grants from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and from the European Research Council.