UAS & Robotics

Pentagon looking for an edge in chemical, biological drone warfare

The Pentagon is again looking for ways to use unmanned serial systems to detect chemical and biological weapons, and to find technologies to defend against UAS carrying those type of weapons.

request for information issued this week for the Thunderstorm Technology Demonstration Program asks industry, academia and government R&D organizations for potential demonstration candidates in two areas: small to mid-size drones that can detect chemical or biological agents, and emerging technologies that could counter small, inexpensive drones carrying a chemical or biological weapon of mass destruction.

The Thunderstorm program is a series of demonstrations sponsored by the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Emerging Capability and Prototyping’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO). The last Thunderstorm RFI, issued in November 2013, focused on countering WMD in the maritime pathways of the Southeastern United States. This one is more general, seeking kinetic and non-kinetic applications for both within and outside of the United States.

For the first focus area, the solicitation is looking for small UAS that can be carried in a backpack and larger aircraft that can be launched from a Humvee. They should have a range of between 0 and 1,000 feet in altitude and a flight time of at least 30 minutes, and have sensors able to detect standard chemical agents in liquid or vapor phases, as well as biological warfare agents such as vegetative cells, spores and toxins. And they need to be able to distinguish between biological agents and natural flora.

RRTO also wants the UAS to be able to collect samples for testing at Defense Department laboratories.

The second focus area looks to defend against small, commercial UAS rigged with chemical or biological payloads with a combination of command, control, communications, computers, collaboration and intelligence (C5i), sensor and electronic systems that can neutralize a hostile UAS, whether kinetically or non-kinetically.

Demonstrations will take place over a two-week span during the second quarter of fiscal 2015 at Camp Shelby, Miss. Application packages are due Nov. 26.

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