Unmanned Systems

Air Force looking for a small, portable counter-drone device

The Air Force, concerned about the potential threats from small drones, is in the market for a  portable, lightweight commercial device that can be used against them, according to a recent solicitation

Following the release of a sources sought notice for a similar solution in December, which helped inform the recent notice, the Air Force said its looking for an interim solution capable of countering emerging threats to government resources. Proposals will be evaluated on two categories: price and technical capabilities.

Solutions should be capable of defeating incoming threats through passively detecting radio frequency signatures of either UAS or command and control ground stations. This defeat mechanism must disrupt or manage the control link between commercial UAS and the pilot while also providing disrupting capabilities between receive and use satellite navigation signals. 

These measures must, however, comply with the hazards of electromagnetic radiation to ordnance, which encompasses the establishment and implementation of explosives safety standards, criteria, instructions, regulations, and electromagnetic emission control procedures of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitters.   

As its name states, the system should be portable, weighing less than 6 pounds, with all operational electronics able to be carried and operated by one person. 

The threats from small, inexpensive, commercial-off-the-shelf drones has caught the eye of government agencies such as the Bureau of Prisons as well as other service branches looking to procure defense systems. A report by the Remote Control Project, based in Britain, documented the vast array of organizations and groups utilizing drones for malicious intent, which includes lone wolfs, terrorist groups, insurgents, corporations and activities groups. Pictures of popular commercial quadcopters used by ISIS emerged on Twitter recently.  While the group and other non-state organizations have used UASs to take aerial shots for propaganda purposes, the concern is that it’s only a matter of time before they become flying improvised explosive devices.  

“Since the solicitation process is still open, we are not able to provide any details other than what's in the request for proposal (RFP) listed on the website. The process is regulated by federal acquisition guidelines to avoid any competitive advantage,” a spokesperson at Air Force Global Strike Command told Defense Systems in an email, when asked to clarify details of the notice such as why it explicitly lists a requirement for an interim solution as opposed to a permanent one, what potential emerging threats informed the need for the notice, or if the system will be used at Air Force installations in within the U.S., outside the U.S. and/or by domestic federal agencies.   

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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