According to reporting from The Warzone, during a press roundtable held on the sidelines of this year’s Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium last week, Gen. James Hecker, the leader of U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA), and NATO’s Allied Air Command shared insights into Ukraine’s acoustic sensor network to detect and track incoming kamikaze drones, and pertinent air and missile defense matters.

Hecker mentioned that Ukraine has deployed a network comprising thousands of acoustic sensors nationwide to identify and monitor incoming Russian kamikaze drones. The system serves to forewarn traditional air defenses and mobilize improvised drone hunting teams to intercept and neutralize the threat. He mentioned that the U.S. military is exploring the feasibility of testing this capability to address its requirements for continuous surveillance and counter incoming drone threats.

“At the unclassified level, Ukraine’s done some pretty sophisticated things to get after [a] persistent ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance]” picture of “low altitude objects,” Hecker explained. This now includes an acoustic sensor system that makes use of microphones designed to pick up and amplify ambient noise, he added.

The Ukrainians have been able to use the acoustic sensor data “to be able to track them and then eventually put that together, get that picture out to a mobile … team that is further out, that now shoots it down with AAA [anti-aircraft artillery], [which] they train a guy in six hours how to utilize,” Hecker added.

Although kamikaze drones such as the Shahed-136 are equipped with relatively compact engines, they generate a notable and sometimes unsettling noise level.

Hecker mentioned that the utility of this acoustic sensor capability extends beyond NATO and could be applicable against various types of aerial threats beyond drones. It’s noteworthy that, prior to the widespread adoption of radar, different armed forces globally, including the U.S. military, employed diverse systems designed to detect incoming aircraft based on their acoustic signatures. However, by the conclusion of World War II, these systems had largely become obsolete.